Seinan War (rebellion of samurai descendants) (西南戦争)
The Seinan War was an armed uprising of warrior class led by Takamori SAIGO occurred in present Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Oita, and Kagoshima Prefectures in 1877. Also known as Seinan no eki, Teichu no ran, Junen senso (in the Kagoshima dialect, Jinen no yussa), and Shigakko Senso, it was the biggest among a series of uprisings of warrior class broke out in the early Meiji period. It is the last civil war in Japan so far.
Immediate Cause (Shigakko and rebellion of Warrior Class)
In 1873, SAIGO left the government after the political coup, and in 1874, founded Shigakko (private schools) and the branches throughout Kagoshima Prefecture. SAIGO founded the schools to lead the band of fuhei shizoku (former samurai with gripes), who left the government as he did, and to educate the youth in the prefecture; moreover, with the goal of forming a strong army to go on a foreign campaign, he positively introduced Western culture by employing foreign instructors and sending capable students to Western countries to study. Under the cooperation of prefectural governor Tsunayoshi OYAMA together with the ruling party, Shigakko developed into a strong power to control the most part of the prefectural government before long.
On the other hand, for the purpose of promoting modernization, the central government issued Haitorei on March 8, 1876 and Kinrokukosaishoshohakkojorei on August 5 in the same year. These two edicts damaged the warrior class both mentally and economically, since the edicts deprived them of their last privileges as former samurai such as wearing a sword and receiving a stipend. These edicts triggered 'Shinpuren no ran' in Kumamoto Prefecture on October 24, 1876, 'Akizuki no ran' in Fukuoka Prefecture on 27, and 'Hagi no ran' led by Issei MAEBARA in Yamaguchi Prefecture on 28. SAIGO, who was staying at Unagi Hot Spring, received reports of these rebellions and sent a letter to Hisatake KATSURA in November.
In the letter, SAIGO expressed his delighted feelings about the rebellions of warrior class together with his own will as 'once I will decide to raise the army, I will surprise the whole world.'
Judging from other description in the letter that he would keep staying at Unagi Hot Spring so as not to make his young Lord impetuous, the words 'I will decide to raise the army' might have meant defense and campaign against Russia, which was his biggest concern in those days, instead of starting a civil war. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that SAIGO might have resentment and antagonism toward the incident that a policy of placing a great importance on 'military buildup' mainly with the warrior class, which he had fostered during his early days in Tokyo for two years from his comeback to the central government in 1871 until he left the government, was defeated by a policy of placing a great importance on 'national enrichment' by Takayoshi KIDO and Shigenobu OKUMA, which emphasized the equality of all people and the abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures. Anyway, what SAIGO really thought is still in the realm of conjecture.
On the other hand, when Shigakko was founded, the central government had failed in taking prompt action for fear of the schools' influence; however, as the Shigakko faction became powerful in the prefectural government, the central government began to put a false color on Shigakko. In other words, the central government took Shigakko for schools for training patriots to rebel against the government. At last in 1876, Naimukyo (Secretary of Interior) Toshimichi OKUBO was pushed by vigorous proposition of the Choshu faction led by Naikakukomon (adviser to the Cabinet) Takayoshi KIDO and accepted the Kagoshima prefectural government reform bill. At this time, OKUBO was in a dilemma between Shigakko outside the government and the Choshu faction inside the government. Opposed by prefectural governor Tsunayoshi OYAMA and triggered local rebellions, the most part of the reform bill cannot be put into effect. Still, some countermeasures against Kagoshima were brought into effect. As one of the countermeasures, 24 police officers including Naoo NAKAHARA were dispatched to Kagoshima in January 1876 on the pretext of homecoming for the purpose of espionage and discord-producing intrigues of Shigakko. The students of Shigakko were suspicious about the homecoming of such a large number of police officers including Naoo NAKAHARA, and on the watch to query their true purpose.
On January 29, the government secretly carried the arms and ammunition from the arsenal of the Army Ministry in Kagoshima into the ship Sekiryu-maru to transfer them to Osaka.
The main object of the carrying out was to transfer the production equipment of ammunition for Snider rifles, which were the main weapon of the Japanese Army in those days, to Osaka; according to a record, it was led by Aritomo YAMAGATA and Iwao OYAMA, the leaders of the Choshu faction and the Satsuma faction in the Army, in cooperation with each other.
In 1877: The Diary of the Department of War: '大日記 砲兵本支廠工兵各方面 １月木 陸軍省第１局'
In January 8, 1877: The Department of War
砲第五号 砲兵支廠鹿児島属廠設置之スナイトル弾薬器械其廠ヘ備附其廠ニ於テ製作可致此旨相達候事但入費之儀ハ其廠額金之内ヲ以取計 追而不足之節可申出事 十年一月八日 陸軍卿山県有朋'
In 1877: The Diary of the Department of War: '大日記 省内各局参謀近衛病院 教師軍馬局 １月水 陸軍省第１局'
In January, 1877: The Department of War
局三四号 砲兵支廠ニ於テスナイトル弾薬製作之義ニ付伺 スナイトル弾之義是迄砲兵支廠ニ於テ製造不致処第二方面内歩工兵員三分ノ二ヲ過キ同銃携帯致居候ニ付当今、鹿児島属廠制作之同弾ヲ以支廠送付致シ然ル後再ヒ各地江配賦致有之候右ハ隔他之場処運搬致候益之矢且緩急之際不都合不少候ニ付左之迄御決定御指令相成度御達案相添此段相伺候也 第三局長代理 十年一月八日陸軍大佐福原実二 陸軍卿山縣有朋殿伺之通 一月十日但入動廠 額金内点報 多少 通御達相成度候也 小砲兵支廠御達案 鹿児島属廠設置之スナイトル弾業器械其廠備付'
In 1877: The Diary of the Department of War: ''大日記 省内各局参謀近衛病院 教師軍馬局 ２月水 陸軍省第１局'
In February 13, 1877: The Department of War
参第二百六十号副 第三坤天式十壱号 至急局百二十三号 スナイトル弾製造器械砲兵支廠江御備附之義伺 一スナイトル弾製造器械一基 但一日六千発製出之分 右砲兵本廠ニ備附之分砲兵支廠江送達同廠ニ於テ右弾製作致候様仕度御達案相添此段相伺候也 十年二月十三日 第三局長代理陸軍大佐福原實 陸軍卿代理 陸軍少輔大山巖殿 伺之通相達候事 二月十三日 砲兵本廠江御達案 一スナイトル弾製造器械一基 右砲兵支廠江備附右弾製作可為致ニ付其廠在来之器械至急同廠江送達可取計此旨相達候事 砲兵支廠江御達案 一スナイトル弾製造器'
The Japanese Army had Snider rifles as the main weapon, and the ammunition was manufactured and almost exclusively supplied by the Kagoshima arsenal, which had been developed from the arms and ammunition plant set up by the Satsuma Domain.
The Diary of the Department of War: '大日記 壬申 ７月 府県之部庚'
In July, 1872: The Department of War
候間至急御返却有之度猶及御掛合候也 壬申七月十三日 大蔵省 陸軍省御中 第七百二十三号 スナイトル銃空包 六万四百八拾発 入箱式拾壱個 但壱箱弐千八百八十宛 右陸軍省御用ニ付可差出旨於此県西郷少輔殿ヨリ致承知今般有功鑑ヘ積入差廻候間着船之上御請取相成度荷作其他本艦迄運送入費ハ当処会計掛ヨリ明細書差出候間急便御差送候被下度此段御伺申上候也 壬申六月廿六日 鹿児島県 大砲製造所 陸軍省秘史局御中 第七百二十四号 城地御伺之義ニ付申上書 陸省官員出張ヲ以御取調有之候福島城之義委詳別紙之通当四月中相伺置候'
The Satsuma Domain was armed with breech-loading Snider rifles before others; based on the modern industrial base that had been built up through the industries at Shuseikan, the domain was the only region in Japan to succeed in domestic production of ammunition for Snider rifles by importing facilities from England before the Army Ministry was established in 1872.
Unlike the muzzleloader, which only needs gunpowder, bullet, and percussion cap, the breech-loading Snider rifle does not work without the ammunition (ball cartridge) in a cartridge case, the base of which was mainly made of brass molded by hydraulic press.
Since the base of the cartridge has a simple structure, domestic production may supply enough for a small amount of individual use, but equipment for mass-producing the cartridge case was required to supply for an army, if small, to use in battle; and there was no equipment in Japan equivalent to that in Kagoshima in those days. The presence of the industrial base was one of the main reasons that Kagoshima, a mere region, was comparable with the central government in power.
Since all the gunpowder, bullets, arms, and making machinery in the Kagoshima arsenal had been constructed or purchased with the money contributed by the then retainers of the Satsuma Domain, the former retainers took it for granted that these things were to be used by the retainers and their descendants in an emergency; therefore, because the Shigakko students got angry with the central government for carrying the domain's property out from there like a thief and for the purpose of being prepared with arms and ammunition for a possible conflict with the central government, they made a night attack on the powder house at Somuta and seized bullets and arms. From that night, what is commonly called 'munitions seizure incident' occurred and other powder houses at various places were raided day after day, but the Shigakko students could only seized outdated Enfield rifles and ammunition for the rifles, of which YAMAGATA and OYAMA thought little.
Now that they lost the production equipment of Snider Ammunition, the Snider rifle, which had symbolized the Satsuma Domain as the new weapon, meant nothing to them and they had to be armed with the outdated muzzle-loading Enfield rifles; it is said that SAIGO shouted 'Damn!' to hear the report because he had realized in the Boshin War that a difference in the burst speed between the muzzleloader and the breechloader makes a crucial difference in fighting power.
On the other hand, on January 30, seven leaders of Shigakko including Kunimoto SHINOHARA, Shuichiro KONO, and Shichinojo TAKI had a meeting and asked Tota TANIGUCHI to make private inquiries on the homecoming police officers including NAKAHARA; in that evening, TANIGUCHI reported them that NAKAHARA was planning to assassinate SAIGO. The leaders of Shigakko, SHINOHARA, Gunpei FUCHIBE, Shiro IKEBE (retainer of the Satsuma Domain), and Shuichiro KONO discussed countermeasures and sent Kohei SAIGO, Takamori's fourth younger brother, to Takamori, who went on a hunting in Konejime. Toshiaki KIRINO, who learned of the munitions seizure incident and came back to Kagoshima from Yoshida Village, discussed with Kunimoto SHINOHARA and sent three persons including Jurota HENMI to Konejime on February 2. Consequently, having learned the assassination plan on himself and the munitions seizure incident from Kohei and HENMI, SAIGO returned to Kagoshima to take measures against the matters. The Shigakko students rallied round SAIGO to guard him from various places on his way to Kagoshima, and SAIGO arrived in Kagoshima with a large number of the students..
Formation of Saigo's Army and It's Departure
On February 3, the Shigakko faction captured over 60 people including NAKAHARA all together and started fiercely interrogating them. On the night of February 4 when the interrogation was being made, SAIGO returned from Konejime and entered the main campus of Shigakko at the site of horse barn, accompanied by the leaders. On February 5, over 200 including the leaders of Shigakko and the principals of 137 branch schools assembled and discussed the course of action to take. Shinsuke BEPPU and HENMI said that they should raise the army, whereas Yaichiro NAGAYAMA said that the three leaders SAIGO, KIRINO, and SHINOHARA should go to Tokyo to raise the matter with the government. Ippo YAMANODA and Shuichiro KONO agreed with NAGAYAMA. IKEGAMI opposed NAGAYAMA for the reason that the government, which was planning the assassination, might attack the party on their way to Tokyo. Then, Sansuke MURATA said that a small army should accompany the three leaders, whereas Oshisuke NOMURA said that he would lead a small army to Obama by sea and from there to Kyoto by land to directly report the matters to the Emperor who would be there for an imperial visit. As such, various plans were presented and the discussion degenerated into confusion; at last, KIRINO concluded that 'we should take decisive action, …, the only way for us is to dispatch the whole troops with colors flying' and the whole assembly agreed on the opinion of dispatching the whole troops. Exceptionally, NAGAYAMA disagreed on the plan of dispatching the troops throughout the discussion, but later, he was persuaded into joining the army by KIRINO.
On February 6, the nameplate 'Satsuma headquarters' was put up at the main campus of Shigakko and enrollment of soldiers started.
On the same day, SAIGO held a council of war, and Kohei proposed the plan that 'the troops should attack Nagasaki from sea and then divide into two groups, one of which would raid Kobe and Osaka and the other of which would raid Yokohama and the headquarters in Tokyo', whereas Oshisuke NOMURA proposed the plan of heading east through three courses that 'the army should divide into three groups, one of which would go to Nagasaki by sea and head east from there, another of which would go to Shikoku and Osaka by sea through Buzen and Bungo Provinces and head east from there, and the other of which would head east by land through Kumamoto, Saga, and Fukuoka,' but both of the plans seemed to have little chance of succeeding for the Satsuma army, which had no warship but only three steamships; finally, they adopted the IKEGAMI's plan of 'deploying part of the army in Kumamoto Castle to defend the region and having the main force headed east by land.'
On February 8, they began to form the troops. On February 9, Vice Admiral Sumiyoshi KAWAMURA, a relative of SAIGO, came by warship to see SAIGO but had no chance to see him, then met prefectural governor Tsunayoshi OYAMA on the warship in Kagoshima Bay. Since OYAMA told that the Shigakko faction had already started for east, KAWAMURA gave up to persuade SAIGO and returned, sending a telegraph to Nagasaki to be vigilant. On February 9, in Kagoshima, Tsuna NOMURA surrendered to the prefectural office and confessed that he was sent by OKUBO on reconnaissance in Kagoshima Prefecture; accordingly, it was concluded that Toshimichi OKUBO was engaged in the plan of assassinating SAIGO.
In Saigo's army, SHINOHARA became responsible for troop formation, KIRINO became in charge of logistics, Shinpachi MURATA in charge of supply and maintenance of arms, Yaichiro NAGAYAMA in charge of recruit training, and IKEGAMI in charge of recruiting, then, around February 12, the army was mostly prepared.
On February 13, with soldiers having been recruited and trained, the Satsuma army has formed into the battalions as below (The battalion commander was formally called Shikicho and generally called Daitaicho. The leader of the 1st platoon in each battalion served as Fukucho, the second in command.)
Platoon leader: Hikoshiro GAMO, Hikogoro TANEGASHIMA, … SAIGO's guard
Director-general of laborers transporting large and small provisions: Hisatake KATSURA, member: Kiyoo MITSUKI
Commander: Kunimoto SHINOHARA, Leader of the 1st platoon: Kohei SAIGO, Leader of the 2nd platoon: Naonoshin ASAE, Leader of the 5th platoon: Chii TEI, Leader of the 6th platoon: Kichinosuke SAGARA
Commander: Shinpachi MURATA, Leader of the 1st platoon: Seinojo MATSUNAGA, Leader of the 2nd platoon: Takehiko NAKAJIMA
Commander: Yaichiro NAGAYAMA, Leader of the 1st platoon: Jurota HENMI, Leader of the 3rd platoon: Shichinojo TAKI, Leader of the 10th platoon: Hanzaemon YAMAUCHI
Commander: Toshiaki KIRINO, Leader of the 1st platoon: Shinjiro HORI, Leader of the 2nd platoon: Nagaaki MINESAKI, Leader of the 3rd platoon: Oshisuke NOMURA, Leader of the 4th platoon: Juji KAWAKUBO, Leader of the 5th platoon: Kyuji NAGAYAMA
Commander: Shiro IKEGAMI, Leader of the 1st platoon: Shuichiro KONO, Leader of the 10th platoon: Hachinoshin KODAMA
Separate battalion (later, the combined battalion of the 6th and 7th battalions)
Commander: Shinsuke BEPPU
Commander: Kyuzo KOSHIYAMA, Army's Supervisor: Hikoshiro YUZUKI
Commander: Kyonosuke KODAMA, Leader of the 1st platoon: Keisuke SAKAMOTO
Commander: Kiyoshi KIJIMA
Each battalion consisted of 10 platoons, each of which consisted of about 200 soldiers, thus, each battalion consisted of about 2000 soldiers in all; exceptionally, the separate battalion (combined battalion), which had soldiers recruited from Kajiki and four other villages, consisted of about 1600 in all, which was less and armed poorer than each of the other battalions and was divided into the 6th and 7th battalions later. Further, FUCHIBE became the leader of the security squad attached to the headquarters and led the sharpshooting squad to guard SAIGO.
On February 14, SAIGO, mounted on a horse, reviewed the troops of the 1st to 5th battalions in the drill ground next to the main campus of Shigakko.
On February 15, in the heavy snowfall first in 60 years, the 1st battalion of the Satsuma army started from Kagoshima toward Kumamoto first (beginning of the Seinan no eki.)
Subsequently, the other battalions started from Kagoshima in order. On February 17, SAIGO started with KIRINO toward Kumamoto through Kajiki and Hitoyoshi.
Hisatake KATSURA went to see SAIGO off, but immediately decided to join the army because he felt anxious about the poor military goods they transported and because of his chivalrous spirit toward his comrade SAIGO, and became director-general of laborers transporting large and small provisions of Saigo's army (chief executive of transport corps.)
On the same day, the separate battalion also started from Kajiki. On the other hand, Vice Admiral KAWAMURA returned from Kagoshima to Tokyo and reported to the government that Saigo's army was approaching to censure the government; and on February 19, the government issued an Imperial edict to defeat the rebels of Kagoshima and formally decided to dispatch troops against Saigo's army.
Dispatch of Punitive Force
Before Saigo's army entered the town of Kumamoto Castle, the government had issued an Imperial edict to defeat the army and mobilized troops to intercept it. On February 15, Saigo's army started from Kagoshima, and on February 21, laid siege to Kumamoto Castle. It was on February 19 when the government issued the Imperial edict to defeat the Saigo's army. It was only four days after the Saigo's army's departure and two days before the siege of Kumamoto Castle. The fact shows that the modern communication network including telegraph had already been set up in the background of that prompt reaction of the Meiji government.
The Meiji government appointed Imperial Prince Arisugawanomiya Taruhito to Governor-General on Suppression of the rebellion of Kagoshima Prefecture (supreme commander), and appointed Lieutenant General of the Imperial Army Aritomo YAMAGATA and Vice Admiral of the Imperial Navy Sumiyoshi KAWAMURA to Sangun (seconds-in-command), which were to be the virtual supreme commanders. This is because the government needed a person of noble birth with authority as their symbol to oppose the charismatic leader SAIGO and also had to avoid causing a power struggle between the Army and the Navy by appointing Lieutenant General and Vice Admiral to the seconds-in-command instead of appointing one of them to the supreme commander.
Also, the government had other purposes including that of balancing Satsuma and Choshu by involving KAWAMURA, who was a relative of SAIGO, to prevent those from Satsuma from being upset. Aritomo YAMAGATA once worked under SAIGO to found Goshinpei and the Army Ministry, but on the other hand, cooperated with Iwao OYAMA of the Satsuma clique in transferring the production equipment of Snider Ammunition from Kagoshima, which made Kagoshima Shigakko students angry; as such, the Choshu clique took advantage of the struggle between SAIGO and OYAMA within the Satsuma clique.
Initially, the 1st brigade (Major General Shizuo NOZU), the 2nd brigade (Major General Shigeomi MIYOSHI), the detached 1st brigade (Colonel Tomonosuke TAKASHIMA), the detached 2nd brigade (Major General Akiyoshi YAMADA) as well as the Keishi-tai troop (later became the main force of the detached 3rd brigade) led by Major General and Superintendent-General of the Metropolitan Police Department Toshiyoshi KAWAJI and other troops were mobilized, and the other brigades were also mobilized subsequently. Among others, the Shinsen-ryodan brigade, which was organized by extraordinarily recruited police officers and mainly consisted of the warrior class, was mistook for a reorganized Shinsengumi due to its name.
The government army, which consisted of conscripts, was so enthusiastic about fighting against the powerful band of warrior class in Satsuma that it even sent the Gatling gun that had been equipped by Tsugumichi SAIGO for the Taiwan expedition to Kyushu but had a trouble in the essential matter of supplying ammunition for infantry rifle.
On February 13, the production equipment of Snider Ammunition from the arsenal in Kagoshima, which was one of the reasons for the war, was set up in the arsenal in Osaka; but some parts of the equipment had been lost and some had been damaged during the transportation from Kagoshima, the government army had to repair and purchase additional parts to operate the equipment. It was apparent that so great deal of ammunition would be required that the production for 6000 rounds of ammunition per day would be a drop in the bucket when full-fledged mobilization from the garrisons throughout Japan to Kyushu would start, then, a new plant of ammunition annexed with a lead furnace for bullets and a percussion cap factory was constructed in order to increase the production.
After the Snider rifle having been formally adopted by the Army and the Navy, the arsenal in Kagoshima had exclusively supplied ammunition for the rifle; therefore, the most soldiers of the garrisons in the key strongholds of Tokyo and Osaka were armed with Zundnadel gun (Dreyse needle-gun), which is the breechloader to be loaded with a paper cartridge case and uses completely different ammunition from that for Snider rifle.
In order to prevent confusion in supplying ammunition, the Army Ministry dispatched troops to Kyushu after having the whole troops armed with Snider rifle; as the scale of the mobilized troops grown, the Army Ministry had already run out of stockpiles of 5 million rounds of Snider Ammunition and become lack of ammunition in March. As fierce battles were still fought in Kyushu in this period, the Army Ministry estimated further 18 million rounds of ammunition would be needed and examined a plan of sending Zundnadel guns to Kyushu because it had a great deal of stockpiles of ammunition for the gun; in fact, an emergency call-up troop in Wakayama (former Kishu Domain) was dispatched to Kyushu armed with Zundnadel gun, which they had used when they served for the domain, and a rear unit including medical soldiers in Osaka Garrison were also armed with Zundnadel guns and dispatched.
In addition, matters that might further confuse the army in supplying ammunition were proceeding such that Tsuneyoshi MURATA, who later became famous for developing Murata rife, was planning to convert Chassepot rifle, which had been handed down from the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), into a model using metal cartridge case other than that for Snider rifle.
Tsugumichi SAIGO and Ichido HARADA of the Army Ministry, who were responsible for supplying Snider Ammunition, rushed about frantically busy supplying ammunition to support firepower of soldiers fighting in the front line by taking every possible measures like obtaining permission to use the facilities to produce ammunition from the Navy Ministry, planning to purchase 5 million empty cartridge cases from a foreign merchant, and borrowing ammunition from the Qing dynasty in order to supply a great deal of ammunition.
Storming Kumamoto Castle and Kokura Blitz Tactics
On February 19, Kumamoto Castle guarded by Kumamoto Garrison had a fire, which spread to the keep in a violent wind and also burned down the donjon.
The cause of the fire is still unknown (as a persuasive opinion, it is said that the government army set fire to itself.)
On February 20, the troops from Kajiki led by Shinsuke BEPPU were successively arriving at Kawajiri. In the meantime, the reconnaissance party dispatched from Kumamoto Garrison fired at the troops of BEPPU; here, actual fighting of the Seinan War began. In the night of February 21 when all the battalions had successively arrived at Kawajiri, the Satsuma army, having been unexpectedly attacked by Kumamoto Garrison, held a council of war. The council was divided between the plan urged by IKEGAMI to 'deploy part of the army in Kumamoto to defend the region and to make the main force head east' and the plan urged by those including SHINOHARA to 'storm Kumamoto Castle by the whole army', and finally, the latter plan was adopted. From midnight of February 21 to dawn of 22, the battalions of the Satsuma army successively started toward Kumamoto, and pressed a siege vigorously against Kumamoto Castle. The 4th battalion led by KIRINO and the 5th battalion led by IKEGAMI were to make a frontal attack, and the 1st battalion led by Kunimoto SHINOHARA, the 2nd battalion led by Shinpachi MURATA, the Kajiki battalion led by Shinsuke BEPPU, and part of the 3rd battalion led by Yaichiro NAGAYAMA were to make a rear attack. On the other hand, the government army deployed garrisons centered on Kumamoto Castle. At this time, persons who would later become leading military men and statesmen participated in the government army: Major General Tateki TANI (later, Minister of Agriculture and Commerce) as Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Sukenori KABAYAMA (later, Navy Minister, Chief of the Naval General Staff) as Chief of Staff, as well as Major Gentaro KODAMA (later, Army Minister, Chief of the General Staff), Major Soroku KAWAKAMI (later, Chief of the General Staff), Major Yasukata OKU (later, Chief of General Staff, General of the Army), for example. The ratio of military capability between the Satsuma army and the garrison was 4000 to 4000 at this time. Traditionally, it had been said that the besiegers had to be ten times as strong as the defenders; therefore, the plan to press a siege against the castle with the ratio of 1:3: would have been reckless for the Satsuma soldiers however fierce and cunning they were. Around early afternoon during the attack, SAIGO arrived at Yotsugimiya from Kawajiri after the army.
At three o'clock in the afternoon, upon learning that part of the government army marched into Ueki, the Satsuma army dispatched the platoons led by Sansuke MURATA and Naoji ITO to Ueki, and in the evening, Shokuro IWAKIRI of the ITO's platoon captured the battle flag of the 14th regiment ((Major Maresuke NOGI..)
On the other hand, Kumamoto Castle was so sturdy against the Satsuma army's all-out attack that it was considered to be impregnable. In the evening, the 1st and 2nd brigades of the government army began marching south on a full scale, when the Satsuma army had moved the headquarters to Honjo and was holding a council of war, which was thrown into confusion. In the council of war, they once agreed in further storming the castle according to the plan of SHINOHARA and others, but Kohei and Oshisuke NOMURA, who arrived later, strongly opposed that; in the council held again in the midnight, they agreed in storming Kumamoto Castle, while dispatching part of the army to blitz Kokura. On February 23, IKEGAMI led the platoons of MURATA and FUKAMI toward Kokura, but upon hearing the gunfire of a fierce battle on the way to Kokura, IKEGAMI changed the course to Tabaru and only the platoon of Sansuke MURATA headed toward Kokura. However the platoon encountered the government army in Ueki and the Kokura blitz plan was failed.
Northward March of the Main Force of the Satsuma Army and Drawn-Out Siege Plan
The Satsuma army adopted a reckless plan of attacking the garrison, which entrenched themselves in the sturdy castle with superior cannons, rifles, and abundant ammunition, with less cannons and inferior rifles. From February 21 to 24, the Satsuma army not only failed each and every attack on the castle but also had most of its fierce and cunning soldiers exhausted in the attack; after February 24, the both sides were involved in confrontation. Then, as countermeasures against the government army that was approaching from north, the government army that was going to disembark, and Kumamoto Garrison, the Satsuma army changed its plan of storming Kumamoto Castle to the drawn-out siege plan. The government army and the Satsuma army kept engaged in battles of attack and defense in the areas of Ueki, Kitome and Kichiji, Torisu, and Kumamoto; from February 20 to 27, they fiercely fought in the Kumamoto area, from March 1 to 31, in the areas of Tabaru and Kichiji, from March 10 to April 15, in the area of Torisu, and from March 4 to April 15, in the areas of Ueki and Kitome. The troops from prefectures in Kyushu that sided with the Satsuma army during this period were the Kijima-tai troop (Commander: Kiyoshi KIJIMA, an about 2000-strong battalion of newly recruited Satsuma soldiers) as well as others summarized below.
Tosatsu troops: main commanders and leaders are parenthesized.
Kumamoto-tai troop (Kichijuro IKEBE), Leader of the 1st platoon of the Kumamoto-tai troop (Tomofusa SASSA.)
About 1500 strong
The combined troop (Nobukazu HIRAKAWA, Hachiro MIYAZAKI, Tsuneo SAKIMURA) (members: Akira TAKADA, Gennai ARIMA, Yasuchika NOMITSU, Fumiya NOMITSU)
About 500 strong
Takiguchi-tai troop (Daishiro NAKATSU)
About 200 strong
Obi-tai troop (Naoki ITO, Shingoro KAWASAKI, Shohei OGURA)
About 800 strong
Sadowara-tai troop (Keijiro SHIMAZU, Hajime SAMEJIMA)
About 400 strong
Hitoyoshi-tai troop (Shikazo KONOSE, Tokuma KURODA, Ryohei MURATA)
About 150 strong
Miyakonojo-tai troop (Suketoki TATSUOKA, Tanemasa TO)
About 250 strong
Hokoku-tai troop (Masakazu HOTTA)
About 120 strong
Takanabe-tai troop (Shukichi ISHII, Morokiyo SAKATA)
About 1120 strong
Nakatsu-tai troop (Eitaro MASUDA)
About 150 strong
Nobeoka-tai troop (Kageyasu OSHIMA)
About 1000 strong
Battle around Takase
On February 24, the 1st brigade (Major General Shizuo NOZU) and the 2nd brigade (Major General Shigeomi MIYOSHI) were marching south. At Kurume, the two brigadier generals learned that their side was defeated in Konoha, and dispatched part of their brigades to the Miike Highway, while hastening the movement toward south. The 14th regiment (Major NOGI) headed toward Ishinuki, while sending a reconnaissance party to the Takase area. On February 25, the 14th regiment was divided into two groups; one was to push through the Yamaga Highway and the other through the Takase Road. In the Yamaga area, the group of the 14th regiment was reinforced with a company that spearheaded the 3rd brigade, and fought the five platoons led by Oshisuke NOMURA, which was transferred to there on February 24, whereas the other group of the 14th regiment had pushed through the Takase Road and occupied Takase without fighting the Satsuma army.
The military organization of the Satsuma army at this time is summarized below.
Oshisuke NOMURA (five platoons)
Kyuzo KOSHIYAMA (three platoons), Kichijuro IKEBE (main force of the Kumamoto-tai troop)
Kijiro IWAKIRI, Kyonosuke KODAMA, and others (three platoons), Tomofusa SASSA and others (three platoons of the Kumamoto-tai troop)
Against them, the punitive brigades of the government army successively entered Nankanmachi and established the headquarters, immediately dispatched troops to Ishinuki, and sent reinforcements to Iwasakihara.
At the sight of the government army pitching a camp along the Takase-gawa River, the IWAKIRI's troop fired down upon them from the bridge over the river, while the Kumamoto-tai troop crossed the river and attacked Hazama and Iwasakihara. The IWAKIRI's troop reversely had a hard time under plunging fire from the plateau on east of Ishinuki, and the Kumamoto-tai troop was intercepted by the right flank of the reinforced 14th regiment; after a two-hour fierce battle and confrontation, the troops retreated in the night.
On February 26, in order to keep the government army from marching on Takase, the KOSHIYAMA's three platoons took up their positions between Yamabeta and Jonoshita ready to intercept it, and the three platoons of the Kumamoto-tai troop led by SASSA and others and the three platoons led by IWAKIRI and KODAMA took up their positions between Terada and Tateyama ready to intercept it. Having misreported that the platoons led by SASSA and others were putting up a hard battle, the main force of the Kumamoto-tai troop led by IKEBE headed toward Terada. The troop led by NOMURA in Yamaga was preparing for a charge.
At this moment, the main force of the Satsuma army led by KIRINO, SHINOHARA, MURATA, and BEPPU was assembling in Okubo (north of Kumamoto City.)
Against the government army marching toward Takase and the government army in Takase, the main force of the Satsuma army was planning to be divided into three flanks of left, center, and right to make a pincer attack from the areas shown below.
Right flank (Yamaga area)
Toshiaki KIRINO (three platoons, about 600 strong)
Center troop (Ueki and Konoha areas)
Kunimoto SHINOHARA, Shinsuke BEPPU (six platoons, about 1200 strong)
Left flank (Kichiji and Ikura areas)
Shinpachi MURATA (five platoons, about 1000 strong)
On the other hand, since the government army was unaware of the main force of the Satsuma army heading north, it judged that the Satsuma army in front of them was not dominating over them and took the formation as below.
Major Maresuke NOGI (four companies)
Captain SAKODA (two companies)
Captain OSAKO, Captain CHISHIKI (two companies)
Lieutenant Colonel HASEGAWA (four companies)
Defenders' troop in the Yamaga area
Major TSUSHITA (three companies)
Reinforcements (general reserve)
(Two companies, a right half-battalion)
The right flank of the Satsuma army left Yamaga toward south along the Kikuchi-gawa River at dawn and attacked the left flank of the government army which was staying near Tamana; the center troop went over Tabaru Slope and engaged in an encounter battle with the reconnaissance party of the government army at Konoha; and the left flank advanced through the Kichiji-toge Pass and got to Harakura, where the right column headed for the Takase-hashi Bridge and the left column advanced through Ikura and Ohama and got to Iwasakihara. As soon as the government army learned that the Satsuma army were storming in full strength by a report from the reconnaissance party and urgent messages from the respective troops, it dispatched the reinforcements to the troops, while having the Brigadier MIYOSHI advance for Sakoma in person. The battle between the government army and the Satsuma army was so fierce that it turned out to be gunfights and close combats in which Major General MIYOSHI got a gunshot wound.
Around 10 o'clock in the morning, the right flank led by KIRINO made a detour to destroy the government army's line of communications in Ishinuki. Colonel Michitsura NOZU (younger brother), who happened to be at the headquarters of the 2nd brigade, decided with the leaders of the brigade to send reinforcements and also commanded them to occupy the Inariyama hill. Once occupied the hill, the government army fired down upon the right flank of the Satsuma army and drove it off, although the Satsuma army had tried to capture the hill again and again. Subsequently, the soldiers of Major General Shizuo NOZU (older brother), who had arrived from north, assaulted on the right side of the right flank so that even the right flank led by brave KIRINO could not withstand it and retreated toward Eda. The struggle for the Inariyama hill has been regarded as the decisive battle in the Seinan War, since the hill was the strategic point in the area in spite of its lowness.
The left column of the right flank drove the government army out of Iwasakihara to Mt. Kuzuhara, whereas the center troop retreated due to the lack of ammunition. Taking advantage of that, the companies of the Middle troop of the government army were reinforced and started counterattack. Also the three platoons of Kohei SAIGO, Naonoshin ASAE, Kichinosuke SAGARA crossed the river under enemy fire and took other attempts to recover Takase, but the reinforcements of the government army pushed them back and it was nearing sunset, thus, the platoons retreated toward Ohama. The government army was also exhausted so badly that they could not chase the platoons. The battle in this area was so fierce that a lot of commanders of the Satsuma army including Kohei SAIGO were killed in the battlefield.
Battles of Tabaru Slope and Kichiji Pass
From March 1 to 31, the fierce battles of Tabaru Slope and Kichiji Pass were fought in present Oaza Toyooka, Uekimachi town, Kamotogun County, Kumamoto Prefecture. In the bleak weather of raining and great coldness in early spring, the battle started.
On March 11, in order to break through the line of defense at Tabaru Slope, the government army was divided into the main force and the detached force. The main force was deployed to break through Tabaru Slope and Kichiji Pass, and the detached force was deployed to contain the movements of the KIRINO's troop in Yamaga. Being confronted with the Satsuma army's violent gunfight and close fighting with swords by taking advantage of the terrain, the main force gave up the frontal breakthrough of Tabaru Slope without making any counterattack and changed the plan to capture Mt. Yokohira (Mt. Nachi) by attacking the west side of the Satsuma army.
The government army formed Battotai (drawn sword squad) with soldiers selected from the warrior class for the close fighting with swords but it was defeated; then, on March 13, the government army newly formed the Keishibatto-tai troop (drawn sword squad of police officers.)
On March 14, the government army started to attack Tabaru Slope but, after all, could not occupy Mt. Yokohira. The government army incidentally found that the Keishibatto-tai troop could fight equally the Satsuma army. Later, a well-known Battotai song was composed to praise the achievements of the drawn sword squad in the war.
On March 15, the government army finally broken the defense of the Satsuma army and occupied Mt. Yokohira (Mt. Nachi.)
It was the first time that the government army succeeded in breaking the line of defense of the Satsuma army. On March 16, a truce was made to consolidate the lines. On March 17, the government army started to attack the west side and front side. Since the government army was slightly inferior to the Satsuma army, which took advantage of the terrain, it could not break the line of defense at Tabaru Slope. From March 4, the government army had 2000 killed and 2000 wounded.
On March 18, in the headquarters of the main force of the government army, those including Major General Shizuo NOZU (1st Brigadier), Major General Shigeomi MIYOSHI (2nd Brigadier), Chief of Staff, Colonel Michitsura NOZU, and Major General Iwao OYAMA from the Takase punitive headquarters held the General Staff Council. The Council was held to plan a strategy and to build unity of purpose. Until then, the government army had wasted its military force; it achieved little for that large military force it spent. It was partly because the Satsuma army had superior soldiers and established the line of defense at Tabaru Slope by taking advantage of the terrain. The government army had to break the strong line of defense at Tabaru Slope as soon as possible to break the deadlock. By taking consideration of soldiers' fatigue, they agreed in taking a day off on 19th and starting the all-out attack on the two sides in the early morning of 20th.
In the early morning of 20th, the government army sent the biggest military force since the start of the war. The main force of the attacking army approached Tabaru Slope via a valley from Futamata by taking advantage of downpour and fog. In the rain, the government army made unprecedented heavy artillery attack from the artillery position on Mt. Yokohira in Futamata toward the whole area of Tabaru Slope. Immediately after the bombardment, the force charged the Satsuma army's temporary headquarters in Nanamoto all at once as a single target. In Nanamoto, due to the heavy gunfire from the government army and intermittent rain, the Satsuma army delayed in fighting back and could do nothing but endure the attack without grasping the situation.
The Satsuma army was gradually overwhelmed by the sudden attack so that it could not fight back in spite of the line of defense and fled to the Ueki area. The government army succeeded in the attack largely because the detached force at Kichiji Pass fought actively. The Kichiji Pass force made a containing attack on the Satsuma army.
That enabled the main force of the government army to focus on 'breaking through Tabaru Slope.'
The Kichiji Pass force suffered a great deal of damage, instead, such that a lot of members including Captain KOMAI were killed in the attack.
The government army and the Satsuma army fought back and forth at Tabaru Slope for 17 days. When the Satsuma army fled to the Ueki area, their heavy line of defense at Tabaru Slope fell. Subsequently, the government army descended Tabaru Slope in an attempt to invade the Ueki area, but was intercepted by the Satsuma army on its way and gave up the invasion. Although the Satsuma army was defeated in the battle of Tabaru Slope, it had established defensive positions along the line connecting the Ariake sea, Kichiji Pass, Ueki, and Waifu as early as on 21st. The Satsuma army intended to delay the government army's attack by blocking their way to enter Kumamoto with the defensive positions.
The battle over Tabaru (Tabaru Slope, Kichiji Pass) started on March 1, which was a decisive battle of the war, was so fierce that bullets fired at that time are often found from the fields and the slope at the site still now, over 100 years after the war. In the Satsuma army, courageous soldiers including Commander of the 1st battalion Kunimoto SHINOHARA, who served as the second-in-command, were killed one after another. In the government army, solely the death toll on March 20 counted as much as 495. The fierceness of the battle of Tabaru Slope can be understood from the fact that 11 out of 30 platoon leaders of the government army were killed. In exchange for that large death toll, the government army overwhelmed the Satsuma army in the battle of Tabaru Slope, and steadily took the first step toward the rescue of Kumamoto Garrison.
Battle of Ueki and Kitome
On March 23, the government army attacked Ueki and Kitome, and entered a stationary position warfare. On March 24, the government army attacked Kitome again, and on 25th, put up a fenced fort in Ueki and transferred its main force of the attacking army to Kitome. On March 30, the main force of the government army attacked the Kumamoto-tai troop on Mt. Sannotake, and on April 1, occupied Mt. Hanko and Kichij Pass. On April 2, the government army also occupied Kitome, then, the Satsuma army retreated to Hetano and villages in Hetano and Kitome were burnt down. On April 5, the government army held a council of war at the headquarters. On April 8, the government army occupied the Kakinoki Battery in Hagisako through the fierce battle in the Hetano area. On April 12, the Satsuma army made the last counterattack, but on April 15, it retreated toward the Jonan area from the areas of Ueki, Kitome, and Kumamoto. In chase of the Satsuma army, the government army started a violent onslaught.
In Torisu, a fierce battle was fought between the Satsuma army and the government army from March 10 when the Satsuma army started defending this area until April 15 when it retreated from this area. At dawn on March 30, two troops of Konoe Garrison invaded Waifu from two directions at first. Although the Satsuma army was disadvantageous with insufficient soldiers in the beginning, it was reinforced by the Ito-tai troop after a while and managed to drive off the government army.
On April 5, the 3rd brigade (Major General Goro MIURA) attacked Torisu and invaded the center of the position defended by the Hirano-tai troop and the Jinguji-tai troop of the Satsuma army. Surprised by the attack, the two troops fled at once. In response to the report, the Satsuma army's Oshisuke NOMURA in Ueki led his troop to Torisu to restore the area but the battle was not decided on the day; on April 7, the battle over the area was suspended once, since the government army temporarily gave up the area to capture Koga first. On the other hand, the government army had to evacuate Koga under a desperate counterattack by the Hirano-tai troop and the Shigehisa-tai troop.
On April 9, the Satsuma army bravely fought and drove off the government army that invaded Waifu again, but according to the judgment that it could not keep on fighting due to lack of bullets and arms, it retreated to Akahoshizaka. From April 10 to 13, the government army started invading Torisu again; although the Satsuma army bravely fought back, it finally left there to Otsu since it run out of arms and was commanded to retreat from Torisu.
Failure of the Drawn-Out Siege and Disembarkation of Shohaigun of the Government Army
Although the Satsuma army kept the drawn-out siege of Kumamoto Castle even after it transferred the main force to the northern front, the drawn-out siege failed and the front moved to the south and east of Kumamoto Castle when Shohaigun (rear attack force) of the government army disembarked and established communications with Kumamoto Garrison. The defeat in 'the battle of Joto' fought here damaged the Satsuma army as badly as the defeat in Tabaru.
Drawn-Out Siege of Kumamoto Castle
The besieged army of Kumamoto Castle was helpless against the Satsuma army, which attacked the castle mainly with counterbattery activities while laying a long drawn-out siege to make the besieged army run out of the provisions and fall. On March 12, a struggle for Daniyama started. The struggle continued till 13. They fought fiercely with bombardment and rife-shooting in a fog at close quarters so that the distance between them was a little more than 10 steps when the fog cleared. At last, the garrison took a position behind Daniyama and drove off the Satsuma army. This battle was the fiercest battle in the drawn-out siege with the death toll of 221 in the government army and the death toll of 73 and 4 captives in the Satsuma army.
After the main force of the Satsuma army was transferred to north, a burden on the garrison in defending the castle was reduced; however, since the provisions that lost in the fire before the battle had not been made up enough, the garrison had a problem of food shortage and had to stretch the food out by reducing the consumption as much as possible. The besieging army led by IKEGAMI was as big as about 4700 strong with 21 platoons and one battery in the beginning, but reduced to 16 platoons and two batteries during the drawn-out siege, and further reduced in March when they sent reinforcements to the hard-fought battlefields at the north front including Takase, Yamaga, Tabaru, and Ueki as the battles became more violent. Consequently, it was hard for the besieging army to completely invest the large Kumamoto Castle with exceedingly few soldiers. On the other hand, the garrison took advantage of that and occasionally carried provisions into the castle by small amount.
On March 26, in the Satsuma army with the reduced besieging army, KIRINO adopted an advice from the Kumamoto-tai troop and dammed up the Tsuboi-gawa River and Iseri-gawa River with stony embankments to flow the land surrounding the castle. As a result, the fields of the northeast and west to Kumamoto Castle became a large lake. That tactics allowed the Satsuma army to save the several hundreds of soldiers besieging the northeastern and western areas of the castle, but it turned out to be more advantageous to the garrison because it could saved the soldiers defending the west part of the castle.
On February 27 when the main force of the Satsuma army was transferred to the north front, Kumamoto Garrison started to make a sortie. On this day, the reconnaissance party led by Captain Naoharu OOSAKO set out to scout the Satsuma army's military capability in the Tsuboi area. On March 26, the reconnaissance party heard gunfire echoes from the Ueki area but could not find the punitive army, then, it divided the rear guard harassing company into three units and send them out to Kyomachiguchi, Iseri Village, and Honmyo-ji Temple, respectively. These units drove off the Satsuma army once, but was fought back and retreated.
Since the garrison had been besieged as long as 40 days and was running short of the provisions and ammunition, it decided to make a sortie to Kawajiri, a southern area, in order to establish communications with the punitive force before it would have been completely exhausted. On April 8, the garrison was divided into three groups of the Totsui-tai troop led by Major Yasukata OKU, the Shinshu-tai troop led by Captain OGAWA, and Reserve, and sortied. While the Shinshu-tai troop was storming the Yasumi-bashi Bridge, the Totsui-tai troop advanced through Suizenji, Nakamuta, Kengun, Kumanosho to Uto where it made contact with Shohaigun. On the other hand, the Shinshu-tai troop looted 720 bales of rice and 100 rifles by taking advantage of confusion in the Satsuma army.
Disembarkation of Shohaigun
Since the battle in Takase in February, the force of the government army advancing south had not made any outstanding achievement. Then, according to an advice from Colonel TAKASHIMA, it was decided to dispatch a troop on missions of making contact with Kumamoto Garrison, destroying the line of communications of the Satsuma army between Kagoshima and Kumamoto, and making a pincer attack against the Satsuma army on both sides. Lieutenant General Kiyotaka KURODA was appointed to Sangun to command the Shohaigun, which is to disembark.
On March 18, the 1st unit of Shohaigun, which was the detached 2nd brigade (later, renamed detached 1st brigade) led by Colonel Tomonosuke TAKASHIMA (later Major General), left Nagasaki toward Yatsushiro. On March 19, that brigade disembarked at the rear of Sugu, which was south to Hinagu, and at the rear of Yatsushiro, covered by naval bombardment, and succeeded in occupying Yatsushiro by attacking the Satsuma army on both sides. On February 20, one and a half battalions led by Sangun Kiyotaka KURODA and the Keishi-tai troop of more than 500 strong disembarked at Hinagu. The Satsuma army could not effectively prevent the disembarkation even though it deployed the 1st platoon of the 2nd battalion at Hinagu, the 5th platoon of the 2nd battalion at Kamezaki, which was southwest to Matsuzaki, and the 6th platoon of the 2nd battalion at Shirahama, which was northwest to Kumamoto.
In response to the report of disembarkation of the government army at Yatsushiro, the Satsuma army dispatched five companies led by Commander of the 3rd battalion Yaichiro NAGAYAMA, Miyakonojo troop, and the 2nd battery from the besieging army at Kumamoto Castle. On March 20, the advance party of the Satsuma army and the government army led by Colonel TAKASHIMA fiercely fought across the Hikawa River, and the Satsuma army advanced to the opposite bank. On February 21, the reinforced government army fought back and drove off the Satsuma army to the Suna-gawa River. On February 22, Sangun KURODA advanced from Yatsushiro to Miyanohara and fiercely fought the Satsuma army. The battle between the reinforced Satsuma army and the government army continued through 24th and 25th without being decided.
On March 24, the detached 2nd brigade (led by Major General Yamada), having started from Nagasaki, landed at Yatsushiro, and the detached 3rd brigade (led by Major General Kawaji) also landed there in the afternoon of March 25.
On this occasion, the name of each brigade was changed, but was altered again as follows later, on March 29:
Brigade led by Colonel Tomonosuke TAKASHIMA
- Detached 1st brigade
Brigade led by Major General Akiyoshi YAMADA
- Detached 2nd brigade
Brigade led by Major General Toshiyoshi KAWAJI
- Detached 3rd brigade (whose members were mostly those of the Keishi-tai troop)
Brigade led by Colonel Michinori Kurokawa
- Detached 4th brigade
Battles in the Kogawa Area
On March 26, Sangun Kuroda deployed the detached 1st brigade in the left flank, the detached 2nd brigade in the center, and the Keishi-tai troop in the right flank, and attacked the Satsuma army in the Kogawa area from the three directions under cover of naval bombardment and seized Kogawa by driving back the Satsuma army after a fierce battle. In this battle, Yaichiro NAGAYAMA, a brave general of the Satsuma army, encouraged his warriors through the following appeal but could not change the battle situation to their advantage: 'Why are you so cowardly?; If we allowed the enemy to seize this place, how the soldiers stationed outside Kumamoto Castle would become?; Only what is important is to defend this place to the last; It is for that achievement that you are to be praised as a good warrior, if alive, or a loyal retainer, if dead; Fight desperately until all of our weapons are used up' (according to "Satsunan Ketsurui-shi" (the history of Satsunan full of blood and tears)).
Battle around Matsubase
On March 30, Sangun Kuroda made the detached 3rd brigade attack Shabashinrei, and made the detached 1st brigade and the detached 2nd brigade attack Matsubase. The detached 3rd brigade seized Shabashinrei, and the detached 1st brigade and the detached 2nd brigade advanced to the line of Onogawa. On the next day, the detached 2nd brigade and the detached 3rd brigade attacked Matsubase from both sides of Yamashiro and the main road, and the detached 1st brigade advanced to Mifune from Kitatoyozaki, attacking the right side of the Satsuma army. As the Satsuma army could not withstand the attack and retreated to Kawajiri, the brigades seized Matsubase.
Battles of Uto, Katashida, and the Midori-kawa River
On April 1, the detached 1st brigade chased a night attack troop of the Satsuma army, and seized Uto. The detached 3rd brigade chased the Satsuma army that had retreated to Kosa, and seized Katashida. On April 3, the Satsuma army raided the detached 3rd brigade under the cover of fog in the early morning, but the brigade drove back the Satsuma army after a five-hour fierce battle, chased it across the Midori-kawa River, attacked the back side and the flank of the Satsuma army, and seized Kosa after further advancement. The entire Satsuma army retreated to Mifune. On April 6, the detached 4th brigade led by Colonel Michinori Kurokawa landed at Toguchiura in Uto. On April 7, reinforced by the detached 1st brigade and the 4th brigade, the detached 2nd brigade pushed back the Satsuma army, which had advanced to the left bank of the Midori-kawa River to the right bank of the river. The 2nd and the 4th brigades attacked the Satsuma army, which had raided Mt. Kihara, from both sides, making the Satsuma army retreat to Kawajiri.
Battle of Mifune
Sangun Kuroda stationed Shohaigun and planned simultaneous attacks in the following areas:
Kosa, Mifune, and Yoshino
- Detached 3rd brigade
Kumanosho, Namazu Village, and Uejima
- Detached 1st brigade
The reserve troop of the above-mentioned brigade
- Part of the detached 1st brigade and of the 2nd brigade
The downstream area of the Midori-kawa River and Kawajiri
- Detached 2nd brigade
Also the downstream area of the Midori-kawa River and Kawajiri
- Detached 4th brigade
On April 12, the detached 3rd brigade and the １th brigade started attacking all at once. The detached １th brigade started from Miyaji, crossed the Midori-kawa River and attacked the Satsuma army. Having been defeated in succession, the Satsuma army was in low spirits, and retreated after setting fire to private houses. On this occasion, though having been injured, Yaichiro NAGAYAMA rushed to the site by rickshaw from the headquarters at Nihongi, and, sitting on a sake barrel, spurred the Satsuma army soldiers who took to flight. However, judging that it was impossible to reverse the disadvantageous state, he bought a private house, set fire to it and committed ritual suicide by disembowelment, accepting the situation. In this way, Mifune was seized by the government forces.
On April 12, the detached 2nd brigade was intercepted by fierce fire from the Satsuma army at the Shin-kawa River bank and the 4th brigade was also intercepted. On April 13, the next day, the detached 2nd brigade and the detached 4th brigade advanced towards Kawajiri in cooperation with each other. While part of the detached 4th brigade was attacking Gakkanitta to keep the Satsuma army in check, its main force crossed the Midori-kawa River and advanced towards Kawajiri by fighting fiercely with the Satsuma army. The detached 4th brigade and the 2nd brigade advanced to Kawajiri, and at last, seized there by attacking the Satsuma army from both sides and made them run.
Shohaigun's Entry into Kumamoto Castle
On April 13, Lieutenant Colonel Hiroshi YAMAKAWA at the detached 2nd brigade was on a sandbar of the Midori-kawa River. At the sight of the troops on his side charging into Kawajiri, YAMAKAWA made a snap decision that he must not miss the opportunity, divided his soldiers and led the pick of the troops by himself and rushed towards Kumamoto Castle, and entered the castle town. The persons in the castle were pleased feeling that they were brought back to life, but it is said that Lieutenant Colonel YAMAKAWA was later reprimanded for the arbitrary decision and execution that ignored the military strategy.
Sudden Attack by the Satsuma Army
Around this time, the military force of the Satsuma army became insufficient due to the battle intensified in the Tabaru area. Therefore, according to Kirino's order, Gunpei FUCHIBE, Shinsuke BEPPU, and HENMI returned to Kagoshima and recruited new soldiers. In two days of the 25th and 26th of March, they recruited around 1,500 soldiers. However, since the government army landed in Yatsushiro and closed in on Kawajiri from Uto, these soldiers could not join the Satsuma army in Kumamoto. Therefore, the strategy of isolating the government army by cutting off the retreat was taken and the recruits went southward from Hitoyoshi to attack the rear of the government army that were advancing from Yatsushiro to Kumamoto.
On April 4, coming from Hitoyoshi to the southern suburbs of Yatsushiro along the Kuma-gawa River on land or on boats, the Satsuma army attacked and defeated the government army in Sakamoto Village, and subsequently won battles on the 5th and 6th of the month, closing in on Yatsushiro. However, counterattacked by the government army on the 7th and 8th of the month, the Satsuma army could not reach Yatsushiro and pushed back to the vicinity of Sakamoto Village. On April 11, the Satsuma army attacked Yatsushiro again. Due to fatigue as well, the government army was defeated temporarily. However, after the government army was reinforced on April 13, both forces did not retreat and the situation remained unchanged until around April 17. On April 17, the government army took the strategy of making a battalion attack the right flank of the Satsuma army. As this strategy worked successfully, the government army became advantageous and the Satsuma army retreated. In the fight at the Hagiwara bank in this battle, Hachiro MIYAZAKI of the combined troop was killed and Shinsuke BEPPU had his legs injured seriously.
Battle of Joto (Battle in the East of the Castle)
On April 14, Toshiaki KIRINO moved the headquarters from Nihongi to Kiyama, responding to a proposal by Kichijuro IKEBE, Battalion Commander of the Kumamoto-tai troop. At the same time, KIRINO dispatched an express messengers to Takehiko NAKAJIMA at Kanokogi and to Oshisuke NOMURA at Tosu to inform them of the defeat at Kawajiri and to command them to move their soldiers to Kiyama properly. On April 17 when troops of the Satsuma army retreated from Kumamoto Castle and Ueki one after another, KIRINO and others decided to establish a new 20-km plus line of defense from the right flank in Otsu, Nagamine, Hotakubo and Kengun to the left flank in Mifune with the headquarters in Kiyama at the center to make a stand against the government army that was coming towards the south and to annihilate the government army.
On this occasion, the troops stationed from north to south of Hirano in Higo Province surrounding Kiyama (in Mashiki Town), where the headquarters were placed, was deployed as below:
(Approximately 8,000 soldiers in total)
- Troops led by Oshisuke NOMURA
- Kijima-tai troop led by Kiyoshi KIJIMA and six companies of the Satsuma army
- Five companies led by Takehiko NAKAJIMA and Fukushima-tai troop
- Five companies led by Shuichiro KONO and the Nobeoka-tai troop (approx 750 soldiers)
- Headquarters of the Satsuma army
- Twenty companies led by Nakahira SAKAMOTO (approx 1,300 soldiers in total)
For this, the government army deployed brigades as follows in a military meeting held by Sangun YAMAGATA in Kumamoto Castle:
(Approx 30,000 soldiers in total)
In Mt. Tatsuda
- Detached 5th brigade
In the east area of Kumamoto Castle
- Kumamoto Garrison
In Kumamoto-jo Castle
-1st brigade (as reserve forces)
- Detached 1st brigade
- Detached 2nd brigade
- Detached 3rd brigade
- Detached 4th brigade
The troops led by Oshisuke NOMURA were deployed in the right-most flank of the Satsuma army. At the dawn of April 20, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd brigades advanced to the Otsu Highway in cooperation, but the troops led by Nomura fought back the advancement successfully until the sunset.
On April 19, the Kumamoto Garrison, the detached 5th brigade and the detached 2nd brigade attacked in cooperation the Nobeoka-tai troop in the Kengun area. The Nobeoka-tai troop fought bravely, keeping Kyozuka, but retreated to the rearguard because they run out of ammunition. Then the company led by Shuichiro KONO took the place, and counterattacked and defeated the government army. Although having reinforcements from the detached 1st brigade, the war situation did not change for the better for the government army. Asked for and had more reinforcements, the government army barely managed to take two forts of the Satsuma army, but the situation remained still advantageous to the Satsuma army at sunset.
On April 20, the main part of the detached 5th brigade attacked the Satsuma army in the Hotakubo area. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the government army concentrated their firepower to break through the vanguard of the Satsuma army, closing in on the rear guard, but had its left flank fought back and routed by the Satsuma army led by Nakajima. Attacked both in front and rear, the government army barely managed to break through the siege by the Satsuma army and retreated. As a result, communications between the detached 5th brigade and Kumamoto Garrison was not recovered even at nightfall.
Kijima in the Nagamine area pushed forward Batto-tai troop so bravely that they were likely to break through the left flank of the detached 5th brigade and invade Kumamoto Castle. Upon receiving a report from Yajiro SHINAGAWA, Chief Secretary, that the progress of the battle was disadvantageous to the government army and a report from Major General Iwao OYAMA that Satsuma army might storm into Kumamoto, Sangun YAMAGATA in Kumamoto Castle hastily sent the 4th brigade, which was a reserve troop stationed in Kumamoto Castle, to the battle line.
As the government army moved from Mifune to Kumamoto, the troops led by Sakamoto advanced to Mifune in the area that constituted the left-most flank of the Satsuma army. On April 17, returning from Kumamoto, the detached 3rd brigade attacked Mifune. The troops led by Sakamoto defeated the attack. However, being unable to withstand the subsequent enveloping attack by the detached 1st, 2nd, and 3rd brigades from the west, south, and east sides, the troops retreated from Mifune.
In this way, the clash between both forces started with the attack that the government army launched on the Satsuma army on April 19 and 20, and spread quickly to the entire Kumamoto plain. At first, the Satsuma army was defeated in Mifune, positioned as the left flank, and in the night of April 20, the Nomura troop in Otsu, which constituted the right-most flank of the Satsuma army, retreated as well. Therefore, in the early morning of the next day, April 21, the 1st and 2nd brigades advanced towards Otsu, then towards Tojima, Domyo, Oyatsu, and Kiyama by chasing the Satsuma army, and advanced to Kiyama through small-scaled battles. The 3rd brigade advanced to Otsu and moved the headquarters to there.
Although having been defeated in the left flank as described above, the Satsuma army-gun was always in an advantageous state in Nagamine, Hotakubo, and Kengun in the right flank throughout the 'battle of Joto'. However, the battle situation became to allow the government army to make a pincer attack on Kiyama, where the headquarters of the Satsuma army was located, from Otsu in the right-most flank and from Mifune in the left-most flank. Against that, KIRINO was ready to fight a decisive battle to death in Kiyama. Oshisuke NOMURA and IKEBE desperately persuaded KIRINO into moving the headquarters to Yabehama-cho, east from there, and KIRINO brought up the rear of the retreating the Satsuma army. Since the headquarters were moved to Hamacho, the troops of the Satsuma army in the right flank, which were in an advantageous state in the battle, were also forced to move to the east, bringing an end to the 'battle of Joto', the largest field battle after the Battle of Sekigahara, only in one day.
Three Provinces-Controlling Strategy by the Satsuma Army and Battles in Hitoyoshi
On April 21, the Satsuma army held a military meeting in Yabehama-cho town and decided that Shinpachi MURATA and Ikegami should should resign from the post of commander of the battalions and be attached to the headquarters to participate in military meetings, that the whole army should be organized into companies, that the army should take the strategy of controlling the three provinces of Satsuma, Osumi, and Hyuga, and that they should set their base in Hitoyoshi.
The organization of the troops and commanders decided on this occasion were as follows:
The Kihei-tai troop
- Commander: Oshisuke NOMURA
The Shimbu-tai troop
- Commander: Takehiko NAKAJIMA
The Koshin-tai troop
- Commander: Nagayoshi SAGARA
The Raigeki-tai troop
- Commander: Jurota HENMI
The Kanjo-tai troop
- Commander: Sogoro ATA
The Joan-tai troop
- Commander: Shosuke HIRANO
The Seigi-tai troop
- Commander: Shuichiro KONO
The Hoyoku-tai troop
- Commander: Gunpei FUCHIBE
The Yugi-tai troop
- Commander: Moritaka NAKAYAMA
On the same day, immediately after the decision was made, the Satsuma army divided the whole army into two units and retreated to the Hitoyoshi basin over Shiihara.
On April 27, the Satsuma army entered the Hitoyoshi basin and placed the headquarters in Hitoyoshi. On April 28, upon arriving at Eshiro, KIRINO established temporary headquarters there and held a military meeting. In the military meeting in Eshiro, they decided on plans including to build a hospital and a factory to make ammunition in Hitoyoshi and to deploy troops in respective areas, which were carried out in succession. On this occasion, KIRINO organized the Satsuma army with the both flanks extending in the north-south direction from Hitoyoshi in the center as below.
Military Organization of the Satsuma Army (according to "Satsunan Ketsurui-shi")
In the Bungoguchi area
- Commander: Oshisuke NOMURA
In the Kagoshima area
- Commander: Takehiko NAKAJIMA
Also in the Kagoshima area
- Commander: Nagayoshi SAGARA
In the Oguchi area
- Commander: Jurota HENMI
In the Eshiroguchi area
- Commander: Sogoro ATA
In the Nakamura, Kakuto and Aya areas
- Commander: Shosuke HIRANO
In the Konose and Kobayashi areas
- Commander: Shuichiro KONO
In the Sashiki area
- Commander: Gunpei FUCHIBE
In the Sendai area
- Commander: Moritaka NAKAYAMA
In the Takaharuguchi area
- Commander: Yohachiro HORI
Against this, the government army was organized as below:
Brigade Organization of the Government Army
In the Kengun and Kiyama areas
-1st brigade (led by Major General Shizuo NOZU)
In the Sunatori and Kawajiri areas
- Second brigade (led by Major General Shigeomi MIYOSHI)
In the Takamori area: the third brigade
- (led by Major General Goro MIURA)
In the Kagoshima area
- Fourth brigade (led by Major General Sukenori SOGA)
Also in the Kagoshima area
- Detached 1st brigade (led by Major General Tomonosuke TAKASHIMA)
In the Minamitaneyama and Gokasho
- Detached 2nd brigade (led by Major General Akiyoshi YAMADA)
In the Sashiki, Minamata and Oguchi areas
- Detached 3rd brigade (led by Major General Toshiyoshi KAWAJI)
In the Hinagu and Kumagawaguchi areas
- Detached 4th brigade (led by Major General Iwao OYAMA)
In the Yabehamacho area
- Kumamoto Garrison (led by Major General Tateki TANI)
In the Konose area
On May 8, Henmi, Shuichiro KONO, Hirano, and Fuchibe moved towards the Konose and Ebirase area, leading the four troops of Raigeki-tai, Hachiku-tai, Jozan-tai, and Hoyoku-tai. On May 9, battles with the government army started, and on May 15, the incident occurred in which a company of the Hachiku-tai troop, including Gentaro AKAZUKA, surrendered to the government army. After this until around June, both armies continued fighting back and forth without a decisive result.
In the Mae area
On May 19, the detached 2nd brigade (led by Major General Yamada) attacked the Satsuma army in Mizunashi and Okochi, strategic places along the Mankogoedo Road, one of those reaching Hitoyoshi. The 7th company of the Jozan-tai troop of the Satsuma army fought to repulse the advancement of the brigade but retreated to Kazawa Village once, and on May 21, counterattacked the government army in Mizunashi and Okochi but was unable to fight it out and pulled out to Kazawa Village again. On May 28, the government army attacked the 7th company of the Jozantai-tai troop in Kazawa Village. The Jozan-tai troop desperately defended itself against the attack, but on May 29, retreated to Uchiyamada due to lack of ammunition and built a fort in Omura, reinforcing the defensive ability.
In the Ono area
On May 5, the government army landed at Tanoura. Because Zaimoku Village was located at a strategic place along the road from Tanoura to Hitoyoshi, the 4th and 6th companies of the Hoyoku-tai troop placed watchmen there, and the troop guarded Onoguchi. On May 6, the government army attacked the 4th company of the Hoyoku-tai troop, and the Satsuma army counterattacked it and succeeded in driving off the government army to Sashiki once. However, on May 9, the government army attacked the 6th company of the Hoyoku-tai troop in Zaimoku Village again. In the battle fought fiercely, the Satsuma army was defeated and retreated to Nagazono Village. With the left half of the 8th company of the Kanjo-tai troop sent by FUCHIBE from the headquarters, the Satsuma army routed the government army by a pincer attack and regained the fort. On May 9, the 3rd company of the Hoyoku-tai troop at Ichinose reached Zaimoku Village through a bitter fight against a raid by the government army, and succeeded in regaining the fort in cooperation with the Satsuma army in Zaimoku Village. Furthermore, on May 9, the Satsuma army including the 2nd and 5th companies of the Hoyoku-tai troop, the 4th company of the Kanjo-tai troop, and other troops attacked the government army at Yunoura in the Sashiki area, but failed to win and retreated to Ono. On May 16, the government army attacked the 5th company of the Hoyoku-tai troop in Ichinose. The Satsuma army, reinforced by the 3rd company of the Kanjo-tai troop from Ono, managed to defeat the government army in spite of the disadvantageous situation.
On May 20, the detached 3rd brigade advanced to Kukino. FUCHIBE at the headquarters in Ono commanded the 3rd, 4th, and 8th companies of the Kanjo-tai troop to raid the government army in Kukino and succeeded in driving it away. The Satsuma army completely routed the government army in this battle, and seized firearms, ammunition and many other things. On May 22, FUCHIBE decided to attack Yunoura in Sashikiguchi, and commanded the 3rd and 4th companies of the Kanjo-tai troop, the 6th company of the Hoyoku-tai troop, and other two troops to march. On this day, HENMI, who stayed at the headquarters in Ono, made up his mind to advance his troop to Kukino, and asked FUCHIBE for reinforcements. Gunpei FUCHIBE sent the eighth company of the Kanjo-tai troop to Kukino. The 8th company merged with the 3rd and 4th companies of the Kanjo-tai troop, which happened to be on the way from Onoguchi to Yunoura, and defeated the governments army. On May 23, the detached 3rd brigade defeated the Satsuma army in the Kuratani, Takahira and Ono areas one after another, entering Ono. The left platoon of the 5th company of the Hoyoku-tai troop and the 2nd company of the Kanjo-tai troop fought back, but were defeated and retreated to Ishikawauchi. Before the 8th company of the Kanjo-tai troop participated in the battle, the fort in Ono was seized by the government army. Gunpei FUCHIBE commanded the company to make a night attack to recapture the fort, but it was counterattacked by the government forces, being forced to retreat. On the same day, the fort of the 3rd company of the Hoyoku-tai troop was also raided by the government army. Receiving the report that the Satsuma army was defeated in the battle in Onoguchi, the 3rd company made the right platoon retreat to Kamase and the left one to Tsuge. Further receiving the report that the Satsuma army was defeated in the Konose area as well, the company retreated to Maitoko. The 2nd company of the Hoyoku-tai troop retreated from Iwadana to Sanpokai along the Teikaku-do Road.
At dawn on May 28, the government army attacked the 3rd company of the Hoyoku-tai troop in Maitoko. On this day, the company successfully defended the fort against the government army, but on May 29, the government army attacked the right half of the 3rd company of the Hoyoku-tai troop again. The Satsuma army retreated, abandoning the fort, but the left platoon of the 3rd company of the Hoyoku-tai troop succeeded in regaining the fort and obtained firearms and ammunition. In this night, the 2nd company of the Hoyoku-tai troop in Sanpokai was also attacked and forced to retreat due to lack of ammunition. Therefore, the Satsuma army in Maitoko retreated to Hiyodorigoe. Because the 2nd company of the Hoyokutai-tai troop in the Fudamatsu area retreated to Hitoyoshi, the 2nd company of the Shinbu-tai troop and the 8th company of the Kanjo-tai troop advanced to support their forces in Teikakugoe and the 2nd company of the Shinbu-tai troop started guarding the main Teikaku Road. The 2nd company of the Hoyoku-tai troop also advanced to Teikakugoe. Around the dawn of May 30, the government army attacked the fort in the left flank in Kakutei and defeated the Satsuma army. Driving on without a stop, the government army attacked the 8th company of the Kanjo-tai troop and the 16th platoon of the Shinbu-tai troop. The troops of the Satsuma army fought against heavy odds and were forced to withdrew to Harada Village one after another. They fiercely fought until nightfall without any decisive result. On the next day, the troops of the Satsuma army were deployed in Harada Village.
In the early morning of June 1, the government army advanced to Hitoyoshi from various roads. Defeated in every area, the Satsuma army retreated to Hitoyoshi and Ohata. Informed about the defeat, the 6th company of the Hoyoku-tai troop, the 5th company of the Raigeki-tai troop, the 1st company of the Hachiku-tai troop, and other two troops, all of which stationed in Nakagami Village, the 3rd company of the Hoyoku-tai troop in Hiyodorigoe and the 5th company of the Hoyoku-tai troop in Tonohara retreated to Ohata. Informed about the Satsuma army's crisis in Hitoyoshi, the 8th company of the Kanjo-tai troop, the 2nd company of the Shinbu-tai troop, the 2nd company of the Hoyoku-tai troop, and the 16th platoon of the Shinbu-tai troop, all of which stationed in Harada Village, the 4th company of the Hachiku-tai troop in Gonohara, the 1st company of the Raigeki-tai troop in Fukanoue, and the 2nd company of the Raigeki-tai troop in Baba Village fought their way to Hitoyoshi.
Offense and Defense in Hitoyoshi
On April 30, the 3rd company of the Jozan-tai troop and Kichiji HARUTA of the 6th platoon of the Yugeki-tai troop took positions to guard the strategic places of Nakamura and Toji, respectively. However, the government army defeated them successfully by an excellent leadership of Lieutenant Colonel NAKAMURA in the battle of Miyafuji from May 3 to 7 and in the battle of Hirase from May 10 to 14. On May 21, Lieutenant Colonel NAKAMURA raided the Satsuma army in the Yokono area, making the enemy retreat to Iwano Village. On the other hand, the 2nd company of the Kanjo-tai troop, which had guarded Ohae, guarded Iwano Village, and on May 22, the company raided and defeated the government army in front of it. The company tried to chase the government army, but due to lack of ammunition, it retreated to Nishihae in Mera.
The detached 2nd brigade planned tactics to advance into the Kuma Basin along seven roads, and from May 1 to 9, executed the tactics. First, the advance guard made attacks from both banks of the Kuma-gawa River, the Kuma-gawa-do Road along the north bank and the Sashiki-do Road along the south bank. Since the roads had difficult terrains for such big troops to advance, however, the government army were defeated by the Satsuma army in various parts along the highways. However, the Satsuma army became to lose the initial momentum as it ran out of military personnel and materials. On May 12, by taking the opportunity, the detached 2nd brigade started advancing towards the south along five roads in the northern part of the Kuma Basin including the Goka-no-sho-do Road. By taking advantage of the Satsuma army's insufficient defenses on the northern part of the Kuma-gawa River, the detached 2nd brigade seized many strategically important places including Toji and Takenohara along the Itsukiso-do Road, Konose along the Kumagawa-do Road, the Shuzan-do Road, and Mt. Nokeboshi during the 13 days from May 12 to 25.
KIRINO, who was in command of the troops in the area from Miyazaki to Kagoshima and that in Bungo around this time, seized the branch office of Miyazaki Prefecture to place a base of the Satsuma army there, and on May 28, changed the name to the Office of Military Affairs. Since Hitoyoshi was in imminent danger of falling due to an invasion by the detached 2nd brigade, Shinpachi NITTA and others discussed the safety of SAIGO, and on May 29, had SAIGO moved to the Office of Military Affairs in Miyazaki accompanied by IKEGAMI and protected by 2,000 soldiers including a sharpshooting squad. From May 31 when SAIGO arrived at the Office of Military Affairs, the office functioned as the new headquarters of the Satsuma army and issued military currency (Saigo-satsu bill) and the like to rebuild the finances.
On May 30, the main troop of the detached 2nd brigade led by Major General YAMADA started advancing towards Hitoyoshi along several roads including the Gokanosho-do Road and along the Shogaku-do Road. Fighting with the troop, the Satsuma army was defeated in various places, losing Eshiro, a strategic place along the Gokanosho-do Road, as well. As soon as Shuichiro KONO of Konoseguchi and FUCHIBE of Onoguchi, both of whom stayed in Hitoyoshi, heard that the Satsuma army was routed and crisis was impending over them in Hitoyoshi, they rushed towards Hoo-bashi Bridge across the Kuma-gawa River. However, the government army was gathering too much momentum to stop, and FUCHIBE was shot and injured seriously while he was setting fire to the bridge in an attempt to block the advance of the government army. He was taken to Yoshida but died.
In the early morning of June 1, the troop of the government army led by Lieutenant Colonel Yamaji from the Shogaku-do Road charged into Hitoyoshi, which was followed by the other troops one after another. Then, the government army set up batteries on the Murayama Plateau and bombarded the southern part of the Kuma-gawa River where the headquarters of the Satsuma army was located. The Satsuma army led by Shinpachi MURATA fought back by setting up a battery in Ninomaru (the second compound) of Hitoyoshi-jo Castle. However, the cannonballs of the Satsuma army fell short and rather burnt Eikoku-ji Temple and towns around Hitoyoshi-jo Castle. This battle continued for three days. The main force of the Satsuma army tried to build the battlefronts in Ohata and other places in cooperation with the Raigeki-tai troop in the Oguchi area to prevent the government army from further advancing southward, but failed and retreated to Iino over the Horikiri-toge Pass. In this way, Hitoyoshi was seized by the government army.
On June 4, Harunari KENDO, Commander of the Hitoyoshi-tai troop of the Satsuma army, and others surrendered to the headquarters of the detached 2nd brigade, together with their subordinates. After this, the remaining troops of the main force also successively surrendered by accepting advices from the government army. Some members of the Hitoyoshi-tai troop were later employed by the government army and performed military duties.
Battles in the Oguchi Area
On April 22, HENMI was selected as the commander of the Raigeki-tai troop (consisting of 13 companies and approx 1,300 strength), and dispatched for defending Oguchi in a few days. Against that, on May 4, the government army sent three battalions of the detached 3rd brigade from Minamata to seize Oguchi. The battalions advanced to the northwest of Oguchi and Yamano by driving off small troops of the Satsuma army in the areas on their way including Ogochi and Yamano.
To defeat the government army, HENMI deployed the Raigeki-tai troop in Oguchi. On May 5, the Raigeki-tai troop fought against the government army near the Ushio-gawa River but was defeated and the government army closed in on Oguchi. HENMI led the Raigeki-tai troop together with other troops including the Seigi-tai, Kanjo-tai, Kumamoto-tai, and the combined troop, and advanced to the area around Otsuka; on the morning of May 8, he attacked in full force on the main road of Kukino and defeated the government army. The government army was pushed back to Fukawatase.
On May 9, having seized Kukino and Yamano, HENMI led the troops by himself, fiercely attacked and defeated the government army, chasing it across the border between Higo and Satsuma Provinces. On May 11, the Raigeki-tai troop advanced close to Minamata, and set up a battle formation from Mt. Ozeki to Kukino. The six companies (about 600 strong) of the Hoyoku-tai troop led by FUCHIBE, which had set up a battle formation around the Kuma-gawa River to defend Hitoyoshi, also attacked the government army in Sashiki. The Kumamoto-tai troop led by IKEBE (about 1,500 strong) was deployed in Mt. Yahazu and Mt. Oni, and showed a sign of advancing to Izumi and Minamata.
On May 12, the Hoyoku-tai troop was defeated in Sashiki, but the Raigeki-tai troop fought equally with the overwhelmingly powerful government army and the battle became so serious that it was called 'a second Battle of Tabaruzaka.'
From that situation, the government army decided on reinforcements and dispatched the 3rd brigade to Sashiki and the 2nd brigade to Minamata.
On May 23, the government army advanced to Mt. Yahazu and attacked the Satsuma army with overwhelming material and troop strength. Although the Kumamoto-tai troop fought bravely, it could not withstand the government army and retreated. Before dawn of May 26, an attack troop with a strength of 60 led by Tomofusa SASSA and Kazumi FUKANO raided the government army in Mt. Yahazu but was pushed back by gun attacks, and the Kumamoto-tai troop was forced to retreat to Oguchi.
On June 1, Hitoyoshi, which had been the base for controlling the three provinces, was seized and the main force of the Satsuma army retreated to Ohata. On June 3, the government army opened an all-out attack on Mt. Ozeki from two sides. The front troop of the government army advanced while setting fire to the virgin forest. The detached forces made attacks from the Kuma-gawa River area. The Raigeki-tai troop fought with these forces fiercely, but could not withstand the attacks from two sides and retreated towards the Oguchi area. Chasing the troop, the government army seized Mt. Ozeki, Mt. Kunimi, and ignition points in the battle front of Kukino.
On June 7, after Kukino was taken by the government army, the Satsuma army retreated towards the Ogochi area. On the next day, the government army chased the Satsuma army and seized Ogochi. On June 13, Yamano was seized by the government army. The government army closed in on Oguchi, and the detached 2nd brigade, which had seized Hitoyoshi, attacked the main force of the Satsuma army in Ohata to advance to the Iino, Kakuto and Yoshidagoe areas. As a result, communications between the Raigeki-tai troop and the main force of the Satsuma army were cut off.
On June 17, the government army held a council of war in Yatsushiro to discuss the strategy in the Oguchi area and decided that the detached 2nd brigade should seize Kobayashi and support the government army in the Oguchi area, and that the detached 3rd brigade should seize Oguchi and then seize the areas of Sendai, Miyanojo, Kurino, and Yokogawa in the south. Consequently, the Raigeki-tai troop was completely removed from the category of strategic threats to the government army.
On June 18, under a rain of shells, HENMI, who led the Raigeki-tai troop, was making desperate efforts to stop the advancement of the government army to Yamano. Nevertheless, Koriyama and Bozuishiyama were seized by the detached 2nd brigade, as the detached 2nd brigade made attacks from Hitoyoshi in the northeast and the detached 3rd brigade made attacks from Yamano in the northwest. As a result, the Kumamoto-tai troop, which was hiding in Mt. Takakuma located between the two brigades, was completely besieged.
On June 20, the government army attacked the Kumamoto-tai troop in Mt. Takakuma and the Raigeki-tai troop occupying Oguchi. The fights this time were hand-to-hand ones with swords based in trenches. However, since the spirits of the hastily-recruited soldiers of the troop led by HENMI were lowered seriously under attacks from three sides of Hitoyoshi, Koriyama and Bozuishiyama, and the government army had the overwhelming amount of materials, even the troop led by so brave HENMI was defeated, and Oguchi fell at last.
It is said that, when the Raigeki-tai troop retreated from Oguchi, HENMI shed tears in spite of himself and deplored beside an old pine at a small shrine saying that 'If excellent soldiers from Shigakko still participated in this battle, we must not have been defeated like this.'
This is the origin of the famous 'the pine beside which Jurota shed tears.'
On June 26, the Raigeki-tai troop set up a battle formation in the south of Oguchi and fought the government army in Sogi and in Hishikari, but could not reverse the situation and was forced to retreat towards the south with the Koshin-tai troop led by SAGARA and the Shinbu-tai troop led by NAKAJIMA. Here, the battle fought about two months in the Oguchi area ended.
Battles in the Kagoshima Area
Towards the end of February when it was still uncertain which side would win the war, the national government sent Gikan (councilor of Chamber of Elders or Senate) Sakimitsu YANAGIWARA as an Imperial messenger to Hisamitsu SHIMAZU, who was called the father of his country in the former fief, to win the general public in Kagoshima over to the government side in attacking the base of the Satsuma army. Hisamatsu answered, however, that he would not support the Satsuma army, but even a favor of the former lord would not be effective any longer. Therefore, the messenger and others made NAKAHARA and others discharged from prison, destroyed factories to manufacture ammunition and batteries, confiscated gunpowder and ammunition, and then left Kagoshima.
On April 23 when the siege of Kumamoto Castle was released, the national government sent an army-and-navy-mixed troop whose main forces were composed of the detached 1st brigade (led by Commander Tomonosuke TAKASHIMA) and two battalions of the detached 3rd brigade (led by Lieutenant Colonel Yoshiaki TANABE) to Kagoshima with Sangun Sumiyoshi KAWAMURA, Vice Admiral of the Imperial Navy, as the Supreme Commander. Yet, having landed and established the headquarters in Kagoshima on April 27, Sangun KAWAMURA made a request for reinforcements based on his estimation of the situation. Then the national government newly sent the 4th brigade (led by Major General Sukenori SOGA and a battalion of the detached 5th brigade (led by Major General Iwao OYAMA). The first operation Sangun KAWAMURA started was to stabilize the lives of the general public. For this, he appointed Colonel Kagemichi NIRE to provisional governor of the prefecture and made him act for police to launch operations including capturing, investigating, and clarifying the prefectural government officers who had fled. On May 3, Michitoshi IWAMURA, the newly appointed prefectural governor, arrived in Kagoshima and sent kokuyusho (document of official notice) to SAIGO.
Battles in Shiroyama, in Shigetomi, and in Murasakibaru
After the military meeting held in Eshiro on April 28, the Satsuma army sent eleven companies including the Shinbu-tai troop with Takehiko NAKAJIMA as Commander to the Kagoshima area. Having departed together with the Army's Supervisor Kiyoshi KIJIMA, Takehiko NAKAJIMA met Shinsuke BEPPU and Hisatake KATSURA en route to Kagoshima and held a military meeting with them on May 1 and decided that Shinsuke BEPPU should establish a temporary headquarters in Yokokawa and give commands for the Kagoshima area, and that NAKAJIMA and others in the front-line troop should advance further and raid Kagoshima from Yamada-go. On May 5, ten companies including the Koshin-tai troop led by Commander SAGARA arrived later and were merged with the Shinbu-tai troop.
Initially, the Satsuma army tried to go to the northern area of Shiroyama from the Yamada Highway and to attack the government army in the rear. However, the attacking chance on May 3 was lost due to a rain, and on May 4, the Satsuma army retreated to Hiyamizu after meeting a fierce resistance from the government army. On May 6, the Satsuma army tried to detour west, crossing the Kotsuki-gawa River, to raid the government army. However, the Satsuma army was fiercely shot and routed while crossing the river, and retreated to Ishiki. Around this time, the Satsuma army recruited from villages and organized 15 companies for the new Shinbu-tai troop. In addition, an auxiliary troop of the Shinbu-tai troop, composed of merchants in Kamicho, was also organized.
From May 11 to 13, a heavy bombardment battle was fought between the Satsuma army positioned in Mt. Saibara and the Imperial Navy warship named Ryujo. From May 14 to 17, the government army burnt the Satsuma army's facilities including a potassium nitrate-manufacturing factory and a food-storing warehouse. The detached 1st brigade, which had been surrounded by the Satsuma army and had occupied part of the city area, attacked Takemura on May 24 but was defeated. On May 29, the 4th brigade made a surprise attack on the Satsuma army from Mt. Hanakura and the Torigoe-zaka Slope, but was also driven back by the Satsuma army.
On May 22, Sangun KAWAMURA made one and a half battalions of the 4th brigade and two companies of the detached 3rd brigade as the right flank and two and a half battalions of the detached 1st brigade as the left flank get on board four warships and small boats, and made the troops land at Shigetomi while supporting them with bombardment from the warships and made them attack the Satsuma army in the rear. Furthermore, he made the warship Ryujo return off Kajiki to prevent the reinforcements of the Satsuma army. Though having resisted strongly, the Satsuma army was driven away from Shigetomi by the troops in both right and left flanks that fought bravely, and then was besieged near the beach and routed towards the north. In this way, the government army occupied Shigetomi. For this, on May 23, the troops of NAKAJIMA, KIJIMA, and SAGARA counterattacked the government army, and eight companies of the Koshin-tai troop and two companies of Kiheitai raided Suzumenomiya and Katsurayama and looted lots of firearms and ammunition.
On May 24, the detached 1st brigade and the detached 3rd brigade made attacks in full strength: While they fought with the Satsuma army around the Namida-bashi Bridge, soldiers on the warships attacked the Satsuma army on the rear and routed it. The government army and the counterattacking Satsuma army fought hand-to-hand fights fiercely. Since they had a rainstorm in the evening, however, the government army fiercely attacked the Satsuma army by taking the opportunity, and the Satsuma army that was almost running out of ammunition could not withstand the attack and retreated to Yoshino. This battle fought in the Murasakibaru area was the most furiously fought one in the Kagoshima area, and the government army had casualties of 211 and the Satsuma army had those of 66. On the next day, May 25, the 4th brigade advanced towards the south along the Shimoda-kaido Road, attacked the Beppu-tai troop and the 10th company of the Shinbu-tai troop on the rear from Sakamoto, Saibara, and Katsurayama, and drove them away to Yoshino. On May 26, when the 4th brigade advanced and launched attacks from the two sides of the Torigoe-do Road and Katsurayama, the Satsuma army retreated towards the Kawakami area without making any resistance.
Contact of Main Government Forces with Other Government Forces in Kagoshima
On June 23, the detached 3rd brigade led by Major General KAWAJI, which had defeated the Satsuma army in the southern Oguchi, entered Miyanojo and attacked the Satsuma army on the other side and in the downstream area of the Sendai-gawa River. Being raided en masse, the Satsuma army fiercely fought the government army, but at last, was forced to retreat towards the Kagoshima-kaido Road. On the next day, June 24, the troops of the detached 3rd brigade reached Saibara and seized the forts of the Satsuma army one after another; in the evening, all of the troops entered Kagoshima and defeated the Satsuma army around there. In this way, the main government forces came into contact with their forces landed in Kagoshima.
Predicting that the retreated Satsuma army were concentrated in Miyakonojo, Sangun KAWAMURA decided on June 29 to advance the detached 1st brigade to Tarumizu and Takasu by sea, the 4th brigade to Yoshida and Kamo, and the detached 3rd brigade to Kamo via Okaharu and Hishijima, to attack Miyakonojo from two sides. He made the Navy provide support from the sea area off Shigetomi, and made a battalion of the 4th brigade stay in Kagoshima.
Battles in the Miyakonojo Area
On June 12 after the Satsuma army withdrew from the Hitoyoshi area, Shinpachi MURATA entered Miyakonojo, put together the troops of the Satsuma army that had retreated from the Hitoyoshi and the Kagoshima areas, and reinforced defense against the government army that would advance to Miyakonojo. The formation of the Satsuma army can not be defined definitely, because it was drastically changed depending on the battle.
However, roughly, the formation was made as follows:
The right-most flank (Mt. Kirishima and the northern foot of Takachiho)
In the Kobayashi and Takahara areas
- The Hachiku-tai troop and others
The right flank (Mt. Kirishima and the southern foot of Takachiho)
In the Takarabe and Shonai areas
- The Hachiku-tai troop and others
In the Shikine, Fukuyama and Shimizu areas
- The Shinbu-tai troop, the Kihei-tai troop, and others
The left flank
In the Iwakawa, Sueyoshi, Osaki and Mobiki areas
- The Raigeki-tai troop, the Koshin-tai troop, and others
Against this, the formation of the government forces that were going to invade Miyakonojo was made roughly as follows:
The left flank
In Kobayashi and Iino
- Part of the detached 4th brigade and the 2nd brigade
In the Shonai area
- 3rd brigade (headquarters in Kokubu)
In the intermediate area between Shonai and Fukuyama
-Detached 4th brigade (headquarters in Kokubu)
In the Fukuyama area
- 4th brigade (headquarters in Shikine)
The right flank
In the Iwakawa and Sueyoshi areas
- Detached 1st brigade (headquarters in Takakuma)
In the Kobayashi and Takahara areas
On June 19, the Hachiku-tai troop led by Shuichiro KONO fiercely attacked to seize Iino, which was guarded by the detached 2nd brigade, but was fought off by the bravely fighting government army. On the contrary, on July 14, the 2nd brigade that had changed its course from Yokogawa attacked Takahara from Kobayashi and seized there. On July 17, the Satsuma army, aiming at taking back Takahara, appointed Yohachiro HORI to Commander of all the forces and divided the nine companies from the troops including the Raigeki-tai troop, the Hoyoku-tai troop, and the Hachiku-tai troop into four units of the front, left, and right flanks, and the troop to attack Kasumi-gongen (the 3rd troop of the Hoyoku-tai troop), dispatched them from Uematsu in the midnight, and made the front, left and right flank troops launch a surprise attack on the government army in Takahara by taking the opportunity of the fog at the dawn. Although almost having come to take back the place, the troops withdrew due to reinforcements of the government army and their lack of ammunition. On the other hand, the 3rd troop of the Hoyoku-tai troop, having advanced to Kasumi-gongen, succeeded in a surprise attack and looted ordnance including firearms and ammunition. After this battle, the government army became more vigilant, and on July 17, built forts and bamboo fences against surprise attacks by the Satsuma army. On July 21, aiming at attacking Takahara again, the Satsuma army attacked the government army but was unable to recapture Takahara and retreated to Shonai because the defense of the government army was strong and it was further reinforced.
In the Odori, Okubo, and Takarabe Areas
On July 1, since the Yokokawa area had been brought under the control of the government army, the 6th, 8th, 10th, and 13th companies of the Raigeki-tai troop, the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th companies of the Kanjo-tai troop, and the 4th company of the Seigi-tai troop of the Satsuma army retreated to Odori and took up a camp there. On July 6, the government army entered from Kokubu and attacked the rear side of the Satsuma army in Odori, making it retreat to Okubo. To defend Katsurazaka and Tsumayazaka in Shuzan, the Satsuma army dispatched troops including the 7th company of the Kanjo-tai troop to there and made other troops prepare for building forts. However, having got information that the government army was coming along the Odori-kaido Road, the 4th company of the Seigi-tai troop, the 13th company of the Raigeki-tai troop, the 1st company of the Kajnjo-tai troop, and the 8th company of the Raigeki-tai troop defended the invasion of the government army. In addition, the government army attacked the Satsuma army along the Shuzan-kaido Road as well. For this, the 3rd and 7th companies of Kanjotai and the 6th company of Raigeki-tai defended the attack, but both sides retreated without gaining any decisive result. Then, the government army made all troops of the second brigade attack the Satsuma army in Okubo.
On July 12, to attack the stronghold of the government army in Akasaka, HENMI led Raigei-tai and advanced to Ogochi in Takarabe. The area was provided with the geographical shape with mountains on the right and left sides and a plain in the center. In that circumstances, the government army took up the battle formation along the geographical shape. Therefore, the Satsuma army divided the forces into the left flank and the right flank, launched a surprise attack against the government army through the mountain roads, and had an advantage over the government army. However, becoming unable to move freely due to the rain that started falling, the Satsuma army withdrew although it was almost win.
On July 17, Henmi joined Kuro BEPPU, who came leading Kiheitai, and Shuichiro KONO, who came from the headquarters as a messenger. Then, to attack the government army in Araisono, he divided the forces into three troops for the main road, left flank and right flank, and made them depart for Takano at dawn. The troops of Henmi and others fought a good fight against the government army. However, since KONO was ordered to return to the headquarters, the commander of the right flank became absent, and the Satsuma army ran out of ammunition, but on the other hand, reinforcements for the government army arrived. Therefore, Raigeki-tai and Kiheitai retreated to Takano and Shonai, respectively. On July 19, having got the report that Miyakonojo was in a crisis, Raigeki-tai in Takano moved to Shonai to reinforce the defensive power. To participate in the strategy of attacking Iwakawa on July 23, HENMI moved towards Iwakawa, leading the 6th company of Raigeki-tai and the 7th company of Kanjo-tai.
Shikine, Fukuyama, and Iwakawa Areas
On July 10, the third brigade advanced to Nagasako from the two areas of Shikine and Shimizu and attacked the 12th company of Kodo-tai, making it retreat to Tooriyama. On the other hand, the 8th company of Koshin-tai, which had defended Shikine and Jodan, was attacked by the government army and retreated to Fukuharayama. The 8th and 12th companies of Koshin-tai attacked the government army to retake Jodan but was unable to defeat it and retreated to Tooriyama. In the early morning of July 15, Koshin-tai and Kihei-tai attacked the Kareigawa-kaido Road. However, because the defense of the government army was strong and Kyuzo KOSHIYAMA, Commander of Kajiki-tai, was seriously injured, the troops stopped the attack and retreated to Tooriyama.
On July 23, the retreated troops merged with the 7th and 8th companies of Raigeki-tai and the 7th company of Kanjotai, both led from Takano by HENMI who received the report that the government army had advanced to Iwakawa, and advanced to Iwakawa with HENMI and SAGARA as Commanders and fought with the government army. The battle with artillery and guns continued for as long as 16 hours, but the Satsuma army was unable to defeat the government army after all and retreated to Sueyoshi.
Tsuneyoshi, Mobiki and Osaki Areas
July 7, Battalion Commander NAKAJIMA of Shinbutai arrived at Tsuneyoshi from Kokubu. Since the government army had advanced in Mobiki and Ichinari at this time, he decided to make attacks on these areas. The Shinbutai departed from Tsuneyoshi in the night, and arrived at Mobiki on July 8. Here, the Satsuma army attacked the government army with swords. Attacked unexpectedly, the government army was driven away to the Futagawa and Takakuma areas. While the Satsuma army suffered about 8 casualties, the government army suffered about 95 casualties in this battle, and in addition, the government army was plundered of a large amount of ordnance including two cannons, 48 small guns, and ammunition.
On the other hand, Kihei-tai, Shinbutai, and Kajikitai, led by KOSHIYAMA, Kuro BEPPU, and others, arrived at Ichinari to contain the government army's movements at Ichinariguchi. KOSHIYAMA and others divided the forces into three groups to advance to different areas. For this, the government army bombarded them from a hill, starting a battle. The battle became fierce, and in the evening, the government army retreated after setting fire to private houses. The Satsuma army also withdrew to Tsuneyoshi according to a command from the headquarters, and reorganized the 11th company of Shinbutai into the 1st and 2nd companies of Kihei-tai.
Having received the information that the government army gathered and stationed in Osaki, the earlier dispatched Kihei-tai launched a surprise attack on the government army but fought so tough a fight that the commander of the 2nd company was killed in the fighting. Therefore, the troop retreated to Futsuhara and Imata Village before the battle was decided. On the other hand, the later dispatched Shinbutai took a wrong course and encountered the government army at Arasa. Although having fought for half a day, Shinbutai retreated to the neighbor of Osaki. On July 12, Kihei-tai in Futsuhara and Imata Village advanced to Osaki, but the government army detected the movement and violently fought with Kihei-tai in Osaki. Initially, the Satsuma army was disadvantageous in the battle, but after Kihei-tai merged with Shinbutai from Osaki, the Satsuma army won a sweeping victory over the government army. However, since the Satsuma army was facing a crisis in the Sueyoshi area, Shinpachi MUTATA, in the night, commanded each troop to withdraw from its place and advance to Sueyoshi.
Advancement of Government Army into Miyakonojo
On July 21, which was before the government army started attacking Miyakonojo en masse, Sangun YAMAGATA, Sangun KAWAMURA, Major General OYAMA, and Major General MIURA held a military meeting and decided on the formation of the advancing troops as follows:
Tanokuchi, Inokoishigoe, and Shonai Areas
- 3rd brigade
In the Fukuyama and Tooriyama areas
- 4th brigade
In the Ichinari, Iwakawa, and Sueyoshi areas
- Detached 1st brigade
In the Shobudani and Takarabe areas
- Detached 2nd brigade
In the area of the foot of Mt. Kirishima
- Part of 2nd brigade
In the Miyakonojo area
On July 24, the detached 3rd brigade advanced from Awaya to Takarabe and seized there by attacking the Satsuma army the commander of which was absent. Then, chasing the retreated Satsuma army, the government army advanced its right flank from Tanokuchi and Inokoishigoe to Mikiminami and Tsutsumidori, and advanced its main body and left flank from the Takanomura-kaido Road. Then in Hirahara Village, the government army broke through the defense by Shuichiro KONO's troop and seized Shonai. The Satsuma army retreated to Miyakonojo, and the detached 3rd brigade entered Miyakonojo in chasing the Satsuma army. The 4th brigade attacked Tooriyama from the two sides of Fukuyama and of the Miyakonojo-kaido Road and Jingatake. Shinbutai led by NAKAJIMA defended the attack and fought a good fight but was seriously damaged since its retreat was cut off by the detached 3rd brigade that had been in Miyakonojo. Taking this opportunity, the detached 4th brigade succeeded in entering Miyakonojo. The detached 1st brigade from Iwakawa fought with Raigeki-tai (led by HENMI) and Koshin-tai (led by SAGARA) stationed in Sueyoshi, defeated them and entered Miyakonojo.
On July 24, the government army seized the Shonai and Takarabe areas, which had been strategically important places for the Satsuma army. As a result, the government army completely seized Miyakonojo on this day as the Satsuma army was routed in the respective areas in Miyakonojo. Although the Satsuma army had its officers and soldiers began to surrender to the government army one after another after this, it tried to find a winning possibility in Miyazaki. However, it became almost impossible for the Satsuma army to reverse the state of the war, when the Satsuma army had Miyakonojo, a military base fit for defense, seized by the government army.
Battles in the Bungo, the Mimitsu and the Nobeoka Areas
From the end of March to the end of April, the Bungo and the Hyuga areas were placed under the control of the Satsuma army, due to the efforts of Kiheitai led by Oshisuke NOMURA, of IKEGAMI, who commanded and supported KIHEITAI from the rear, and of the troop led by IKEGAMI. However, when the government army started counterattacking on a full scale in June, the Satsuma army there was gradually driven into a disadvantageous state. After Miyakonojo was seized, the Satsuma army was defeated successively in the battles of Miyazaki, Mimitsu, and Nobeoka, and retreated to the north. At the end of August, the Satsuma army was brought to a standstill in Nagai Village in the north of Nobeoka.
In the Mitai, Bungo and Hyuga Areas
On April 30, commanded by SAIGO to charge into the Bungo area, Commander Oshisuke NOMURA led Kiheitai to went over Mt. Shiiba and assigned part of the troop to the roles of defending Tomitaka-shinmachi (in the west of Hososhima) and guarding the Hososhima area, while advancing the main force to Nobeoka. Approximately 1,000 soldiers of the troop led by IKEGAMI were dispatched to the Mitai area on May 4 to support the NOMURA's troop, then part of the force was assigned to the role of guarding Mitai, located in a transportation route between Hitoyoshi, the stronghold of the Satsuma army, and Nobeoka, while the main force was advanced eastward to Nobeoka. The Satsuma army that had advanced to Nobeoka established a temporary headquarters there, manufactured ammunition, recruited soldiers, and procured necessary goods. Then, the Satsuma army deployed a company of Kiheitai in Miyazaki, the 2nd company of Kiheitai in Mimitsu, the 3rd company of Kiheitai in Hososhima, and three companies of Kiheitai in Nobeoka and occupied Hyuga where the government army had not advanced yet.
After this, IKEGAMI supported and commanded Oshisuke NOMURA, who had advanced to the Bungo area from Nobeoka, and commanded the troops in the Mitai area as well. On May 14, six companies including Seigi-tai led by Takagi and others assailed the guard of Kumamoto Garrison in Mt. Kagami along the Nobeoka-kaido Road, and advanced to Mamihara and Kawaguchi, chasing the guard. Troops of Kumamoto Brigade changed their course to the Takeda area from Mamihara on May 22, and then the 1st brigade, having been assigned to this area, attacked Orihara on May 25 and seized Mitai at last. However, as Mitai had been seized, the Satsuma army occupied the line of the Hikage-gawa River on June 1 and prevented advancement of the government army. Although fighting a disadvantageous fight and retreating in this way, the Satsuma army continued preventing the government army from advancing towards the Nobeoka area until August.
In the Bungo Area
On May 10, Oshisuke NOMURA, Commander of Kiheitai, started efforts to conquer Bungo on a full scale, leading eight companies of Kiheitai. The four earlier dispatched companies started from Nobeoka and seized Shigeoka on May 12, and seized Takeda on May 13. He recruited soldiers here and added Hokoku-tai with several hundred soldiers to his forces. On May 14, the four later dispatched companies also arrived at Takeda, and the soldiers selected from the Oitatotsugeki-tai joined the forces. In this way, the operation to conquer Bungo was progressing smoothly. However, on May 15, the government army reinforced the troops in Takeda with the troops selected from Kumamoto Garrison and the 1st brigade, and counterattacked the Satsuma army. Both sides fought fiercely for ten-odd days, and Takeda fell and was seized by the government army on May 29. Kiheitai seized Usuki on June 1, but was attacked on June 7 by four battalions led by Colonel Michitsura NOZU and bombarded from three warships, and was defeated on June 10. Pressured from the north in this way, Kiheitai moved its base to Kumata on June 22.
In the Nojiri Area
Kobayashi, defended by Hachikutai, was seized by the 2nd brigade of the government army on July 11. Further advanced government army fought with the Satsuma army in Nojiri from July 21. However, since the Satsuma army lost its momentum due to fatigue, the detached 2nd brigade took advantage of that and seized Nojiri on the next day, July 22.
In the Miyazaki Area
On July 24, the 3rd brigade attacked Hachiku-tai led by Shuichiro KONO and others, and conquered Shonai. On the same day, the detached 1st brigade attacked Sueyoshi, and the detached 2nd brigade attacked Takarabe. Then, the 3rd brigade, the detached 3rd brigade, and the 4th brigade conquered Miyakonojo at last. On July 25, Shinbu-tai, Koshin-tai, and Kumamoto-tai of the Satsuma army led by NAKAJIMA, KIJIMA, and others fought in defense of Yamanoguchi, but were defeated by the 3rd brigade.
At the same time, Kiheitai led by Kuro BEPPU fought a defensive battle in Mimata.
After having been defeated in Miyakonojo, the Satsuma army deployed its troops in the following formation around Miyazaki, preparing for attacks by the government army from the north, west and south.
In the Miyazaki Area
The Jozan-tai troop (Commander: Shosuke HIRANO), Sharpshooting Squad (Company Commander: Sokuro OGURA), and the troop of the soldiers recruited in Miyazaki
In the Nobeoka, Mitai, and Bungo Areas
- Shiro IKEGAMI
The Kihei-tai troop (Commander: Oshisuke NOMURA), the Nakatsu-tai troop (Company Commander: Sotaro MASUDA), and the Seigi-tai troop (Commander: Shichinojo TAKI)
In the Gakunoki and Kiyotake Areas
The Raigeki-tai troop (Commander: Jorota HENMI), the Shinbu-tai troop (Commander: Takehiko NAKAJIMA), the Hachiku-tai troop (Commander: Shuichiro KONO), the Koshin-tai troop (Commander: Nagayoshi SAGARA), the Hoyoku-tai troop (Commander: Seiichi NIINO), the Kumamoto-tai troop (Commander: Kichijoro IKEBE), the combined troop (Company Commander: Gennai ARIMA), the Kajiki-tai troop
In the Mt. Amatsutsumi and Odomari Areas
The Kanjo-tai troop (Commander: Sogoro ATA), the Sadowara-tai troop (Commandant: Gen SAMEJIMA), the Shibushi-tai troop (Company Commander: Ikizo HORIKI)
In the Obi Area
The Obi-tai troop (Commander: Shingoro KAWASAKI)
In the Sadowara Area
The Sadowara-tai troop
In the Takanabe Area
The Takanabe-tai troop (Commander: Morokiyo SAKATA)
On July 27, the detached 3rd brigade attacked the Obi area in Nichinan City and conquered the area. On this occasion, many members of the Obi-tai troop and many soldiers of the Satsuma army surrendered. The second brigade, having gathered at Imabeppu to attack Takaoka, started attacking Kamiya on July 28 in cooperation with the detached second brigade. The government army fought a tough fight against the defending troops of HENMI, NAKAJIMA, Shuichiro KONO, and Nagayoshi SAGARA, and managed to break through the defense. On the next day, July 29, the government army moved the soldiers towards Takaoka by breaking through the dangerous pass at Akasaka on the way to Takaoka, and seized Takaoka.
Having occupied Miyakonojo City, Obi, and Kushima, the 3rd brigade, the 4th brigade, and the detached 3rd brigade closed in on the Oyodo-gawa River in Miyazaki City on July 30. At the same time, the government army seized Mukasa, Miyazuru, and Kuraoka as well. On July 31, the 3rd brigade, the 4th brigade, and the detached 3rd brigade bravely crossed the Oyodo-gawa River that was swollen by heavy rain and invaded the urban area of Miyazaki. The Satsuma army assumed that the government army would not cross that swollen river, and remained unguarded. Therefore, unable to make any resistance, the Satsuma army retreated from Miyazaki, allowing the government army to seize Miyazaki City. Following this, the 2nd brigade seized Sadowara-cho Town.
After having been defeated in Miyazaki City and in Sadowara, the Satsuma army forces set up a fighting formation beside the Takanabe-gawa River as follows in preparation for attacks by the government army: the troops led by those including KIRINO, HENMI, NAKAJIMA, KIJIMA, and Shuichiro KONO, the Kumamoto-tai troop led by IKEBE, and the combined troop led by ARIMA as well as the Takanabe-tai troop. Against this, the government army deployed the 4th brigade, the 3rd brigade, the 2nd brigade, and the detached 2nd brigade on the west bank of the Ichinose-gawa River from the sea side of Hirose, waiting for an opportunity of attacking. On this occasion, the detached 3rd brigade was disbanded to deal with the captured Satsuma army soldiers.
On August 1, the Shinsen-ryodan brigade arrived in Miyazaki on board ships. After this, this brigade advanced towards Takanabe together with other brigades deployed along the Ichinose-gawa River. On the next day, August 2, each of the brigades attacked and conquered Takanabe.
In the Mera Area
On July 13, after Hitoyoshi was seized, Sogoro ATA, Commander of the Kanjo-tai troop, was ordered to take command of Meraguchi, and reinforced defense in the Mera area by organizing the troops. Then, the Satsuma army advanced and attacked the high Mt. Amatsutsumi on July 23, but was defeated and retreated to Kosinoo. On July 29, the Satsuma army was defeated again by the government army that attacked Koshinoo. On August 2, having received a command to retreat to Mimitsu, the troops in Shiromi moved towards Mimitsu.
In the Mimitsu Area
After having been broken through and seized Takanabe on August 2, the Satsuma army was concentrated in Mimitsu and made preparations for fights. The Satsuma army placed the headquarters in Nobeoka and deployed its soldiers from Yamakage to the coast of Mimitsu. On this occasion, from the south to the north in order, KIRINO placed his troop in Hiraiwa, Shinpachi MURATA in Tomitaka-shinmachi, and IKEGAMI in Nobeoka, and commanded the troops respectively.
On August 4, the detached 2nd brigade detoured to the vicinity of Tsuboya along the main road of Kijino, advanced through a by-pass and attacked the rear of the Miyazaki-Shinbo-tai troop (the troop of the soldiers recruited newly in Miyazaki) that had guarded the Watari-gawa River. Having retreated from the Watari-gawa River and Kijino, the Satsuma army reinforced the defense in Yamakage on August 6. On the same day, SAIGO issued to the troop commanders a message to urge them to make more efforts.
On August 7, the detached 2nd brigade attacked the 3rd, 6th, and 14th troops of the Kihei-tai troop and drove them off from Yamakage. The government army further chased the Satsuma army and rushed into Tomitaka-shinmachi. The Satsuma army could not withstand that attack and retreated from Mimitsu towards Kadokawa. On the same day, IKAGAMI moved the gun-powder-manufacturing factory and the hospital in Nobeoka and the headquarters to Kumata.
In the Nobeoka Area
On August 12, the government army started strategic activities for attacking Nobeoka. On August 14, the detached 2nd brigade rushed into Nobeoka, and the Satsuma army resisted it by destroying bridges across the Nakase-gawa River in the urban area of Nobeoka. When the 3rd and the 4th brigades and the Shinsen-ryodan brigade further rushed into Nobeoka before long, the Satsuma army was finally defeated. In the night of the same day, SAIGO overpowered admonishments by his military commanders and determined to stand at the front and take command of the Satsuma army by himself in the next morning to fight a decisive battle with the government army.
On this occasion, the Satsuma army (of approx 3,000 to 3,500 soldiers) was deployed in the following formation with the Wada-toge Pass at the center (according to "Daisaigototsui Senshi" (a war chronicle of Great Saigo breaking through the besieging armies)):
In the Areas of Mt. Tomouchi and Mt. Mushika (Two Companies)
Naoji ITO (the Kihei-tai troop)
In Kagurada and the Wada-toge Pass (Seven Companies)
Nagayoshi SAGARA (the Koshin-tai troop), Shuichiro KONO (the Hachiku-tai troop), Shosuke HIRANO (the Jozan-tai troop), Sogoro ATA (the Kanjo-tai troop), Seiichi NIINO (the Hoyoku-tai troop), and Shichinojo TAKI (the Seigi-tai troop)
In the northern area of the Wada-toge Pass and the Koazusa-toge Pass
Sadahira YAMAZAKI (the Kumamoto-tai troop)
In the Koazusa-toge Pass and Mt. Nagao
Oshisuke NOMURA (the Kihei-tai troop), Sotaro MASUDA (the Nakatsu-tai troop), and Yushichi SHIGEHISA (the Kihei-tai troop)
In the area from Mt. Nagao to Mt. Eno in the west, five companies from the Raigeki-tai troop led by Jurota HENMI, from the Shinbu-tai troop led by Takehiko NAKAJIMA, and from the combined troop led by Chotaro NOMITSU were deployed. In Kumata in the northern part, five companies led by Shohei OGURA and Sanji SATO were deployed as a reserve troop to fight against the soldiers of Kumamoto Garrison.
For this, under the command of Sangun YAMAGATA, the government army (approx 50,000 soldiers) deployed as follows to surround and rout the Satsuma army:
In the Hozaijima Area
- The Shinsen-ryodan brigade
In the Mushika Area
- The 4th brigade
In the Wada-toge Pass and Dosaka Areas
- The detached 2nd brigade
In the Area of Mt. Nagao
- The 3rd brigade
The main attacking forces were deployed as described above, and the other forces were deployed at the foot of Mt. Eno in the western part as follows:
At the southern foot of Mt. Eno
- The 3rd brigade
At the western foot of Mt. Eno
- The 1st brigade
At the northern part of Kumata,
Kumamoto Garrison and two companies of the detached 1st brigade
In the early morning of August 15, at the top of the Wadagoe Pass, SAIGO, accompanied by military commanders including KIRINO, Shinpachi MURATA, IKEGAMI, and Shinsuke BEPPU, urged the soldiers to fight more vigorously. On the other hand, Sangun YAMAGATA observed the war situation from Kashiyama. In this way, the battle was fought, while the top commanders of both sides were urging their soldiers to fight more vigorously. Initially, the detached 2nd brigade was suffering from the muddy ground in Dosaka and bombardments from the Satsuma army. Taking this opportunity, KIRINO led a troop of the best fighters who were ready to die, ran down to the fighting field, and attacked the enemy. Therefore, the detached 2nd brigade faced a crisis. Just then, the left flank of the 4th brigade advanced there to support the detached 2nd brigade and barely managed to drive away the KIRINO's troop. After this, both of the brigades fought back and forth fiercely with the Satsuma army. Before long, the government army made other troops advance, and in order to attack the center flank of the Satsuma army, made them close in on the Kumamoto-tai troop. The Kumamoto-tai troop counterattacked the government army but was placed in a disadvantageous state. HENMI and Oshisuke NOMURA supported the Kumamoto-tai troop with reinforcements, but government army broke through the defense. Shortly after fighting a fierce battle, the Satsuma army retreated from Mt. Nagao, because it was smaller in the number of soldiers and inferior in armaments. After this, the Satsuma army was defeated in Mt. Mushika as well, and retreated to Kumata. The government army decided to make an all-out attack to wipe out the main military base of the Satsuma army all at once, and made preparations for the all-out attack to be started in the next morning.
Breaking a Siege of Mt. Eno
Having been defeated in a decisive battle in the Wadagoe Pass and having been surrounded in Nagai Village, Saigo's army placed its headquarters in the residence of Kumashiro KODAMA in Tawarano on August 15. On August 16, SAIGO issued a command to dissolve his army.
Our forces are placed in an extremely difficult situation here. The strategy for today is only to fight a decisive fight, being ready to die. On this occasion, in all the troops, soldiers should surrender if want to do so, and should die if want to die; Some high-level samurai behave like low-level samurai, and some low-level samurai behave like high-level samurai. You should behave only as you like.
Then, many started to surrender one after another, and only the elite around 1,000 remained. Although having decided to fight a decisive battle, there appeared those who intended to rise again. Therefore, the leaders of the Satsuma army, who were forced to make a decision, at last decided at 4 PM, August 17, to break through Mt. Eno in order to get rid of the siege of Nagai Village laid by the government army. To break through the mountain, the troops were organized as follows: the front troop led by Shuichiro KONO and HENMI, the middle troop led by KIRINO and Shinpachi MURATA, and the rear troop led by NAKAJIMA and KIJIMA, with approx. 60 soldiers led by IKEGAMI and Shinsuke BEPPU for guarding SAIGO (according to "Chinzeisentoteigen" (the battles in Kyushu in country dialect), MURATA and IKEGAMI led the middle troop and SAIGO and KIRINO took supreme command of the Satsuma army). The Totsui-gun troop on this occasion consisted of 300 to 500 elites (approx. 600 according to "Shinpen Seinansenshi" (A newly compiled history of Seinan War). Departed the residence of Kumashiro KODAMA at 10 PM of August 17, the troop started climbing Mt. Eno and arrived at the summit in the early morning of the next day, August 18. Saigo's forces found that the guard of the government army on the north side from there was not strong, and therefore, went down the mountain en masse and attacked the government army with HENMI as the spearhead. Attacked unexpectedly, the 1st and 2nd brigades of the government army were routed, being forced to retreat. Therefore, Saigo's forces succeeded in looting the food, 30,000 rounds of ammunition, and a cannon of the government army.
Marching through Mountain Areas and Returning to Satsuma
Having broken through Mt. Eno, Saigo's forces crushed the Shikagawa-bunkentai detachment on August 18 and decided to advance to the Mitai area. After this, on August 19, Saigo's forces broke the 2nd siege line along the Hori-gawa River, and on the next day August 20, seized Shikagawa Village and Nakagawa Village and rushed to Mitai. On August 21, Saigo's forces arrived at Mitai. Here, KIRINO proposed that they should take back Kumamoto Castle, considering that the siege by the government army was quite tight, the terrain was rugged and therefore, it would be difficult for all forces of the Satsuma army to break through the siege. However, SAIGO turned down this proposal, and in the midnight of August 22, Saigo's forces started advancing to the south towards Kagoshima.
For this, the government army, which had been shocked by the breaking-through of Mt. Eno by Saigo's forces, deployed soldiers in Yokokawa, Yoshimatsu and Kajiki to prevent the southward advancement of Saigo's forces. However, this strategy failed, because the members of the Saigo's forces were their best soldiers and superior in mobility, though the number was small. The following would be a factor of this: From the start, the actions of Saigo's forces were not taken to achieve predetermined objectives, but to attack weak points of the government army on the occasions, and although the forces departed for Kagoshima, it was after they arrived at Mera that they finally decided to rush into Kagoshima.
On August 24, Saigo's forces arrived at Mikado through Nanayama and Matsugadaira. However, although having been attacked there by the detached 2nd brigade led by Major Matsuura, they managed to get rid of the attack, passed Murasho on August 26, and passed Suki and entered Kobayashi on August 28. On the same day, the Satsuma army attempted to advance from the Kobayashi plain to Kajiki. However, prevented by the 2nd brigade that had landed at Shigetomi in the Kagoshima bay to prevent the southern advancement of Saigo's forces, the attempt failed. Being forced to detour, Saigo's forces crushed the defenders' troop of the government army and infiltrated into Kagoshima on September 1.
Battles in the Besieged Shiroyama Castle
On September 1, upon entering Kagoshima, HENMI seized Shigakko by removing the government army of 200 soldiers who had guarded, and the main part of the Totsui-gun forces set up a battle formation with Shiroyama (in Kagoshima City) at the center. At this time, the war situation in Kagoshima became significantly advantageous to Saigo's forces. As residents there were cooperative, Saigo's forces brought almost all urban areas of Kagoshima under its control, with the government army guarding only its headquarters at Yonekura. However, on September 3, the government army reversed the situation, driving away the front troop of the Satsuma army around the Shiroyama area. On September 4, among Saigo's forces, which had started counterattacking, the Kesshi-tai troop led by KIJIMA made a surprise attack on Yonekura. However, the 2nd brigade led by Major General MIYOSHI, which rushed to Yonekura, prevented the attack and wiped out the Kesshi-tai troop including Kijima. In this way, the government army completed the siege of Shiroyama on September 6.
At this time, the number of soldiers of the Satsuma army was slightly more than 350 (slightly more than 370, when including low-level samurai), and therefore, platoons (each including 20 to 30 soldiers) were organized newly and were deployed in the following way:
The Sharpshooting Squad
- The platoon leader: Hikoshiro GAMO, for guarding SAIGO
In the Shiroyama Area
- The platoon leader: Naojiro FUJII
In the Iwasakihondo Area
- The platoon leader: Shuichiro KONO
In the Shigakko and Kadoyakura Areas
- The platoon leader: Sanji SATO
In the Prefectural Government Office, Ninomaru and Terukuni-jinja Shrine Areas
- The platoon leader: Ippo YAMANODA
In the Ote and Hondayashiki Areas
- The platoon leader: Shichinojo TAKI, and the deputy platoon leader: Shinjiro HORI
In the Uenodaira, Hirotani and Sangenmatsu Areas
- The platoon leader: Shirozaemon KONO
In the Shinshoin and Natsukageshita Areas
- The platoon leader: Takehiko NAKAJIMA
- The platoon leader: Kijiro IWAKIRI
- The platoon leader: Takeichi SONODA
Between Atomawari and Shiroyama
- The platoon leader: Yanosuke ICHIKI
On September 8 when Sangun Aritomo YAMAGATA, Lieutenant General of the government army, arrived in Kagoshima, the army compiled a plan of "The first priority should be given to siege, defense and guard, and the second priority to attack" so as to avoid the failure at Mt. Eno.
Around this time, the government army was deployed as follows:
Maruoka, Jokomyo-ji Temple and Uenohara
- The 2nd brigade (led by Major General Shigeomi MIYOSHI, headquartered at Tsurumizaki)
Korai-bashi Bridge, Taniyama-do Road, the Area along the Sea Coast, and Nishida-bashi Bridge
- The 2nd brigade (led by Major General Goro MIURA, headquartered at Kishaba)
Mt. Taga, Torigoe-zaka Slope, and Katsurayama
- The 4th brigade (Major General: Sukenori SOGA, headquartered at Dattantoto)
The Kototsu-gawa River, Nishida-bashi Bridge, and Kuchikibaba
- The detached 1st brigade (Major General: Tomonosuke TAKASHIMA, headquartered at Harayoshi)
- The detached second brigade (Major General: Akiyoshi YAMADA, headquartered at Kami-Ishikii)
In the Yonekura Area
- The Keishi-tai troop (headquartered at Yonekura)
On September 19 when the Seinan War entered in the final phase, after having consulted some high-level samurai and officers in Saigo's forces, YAMANODA and Shuichiro KONO visited Vice Admiral of the Imperial Navy Sumiyoshi KAWAMURA, a relative of Saigo, as military messengers on the pretext of making an explanation of why they took up arms, concealing the real intention of pleading for SAIGO's life from SAIGO and KIRINO. However, they were captured. On September 22, SAIGO notified the members of his forces of his intention of being ready for death, issuing 'An appeal of being ready for dying at Shiroyama'.
This time, I sent Shuichiro KONO and Ippo YAMANODA to the enemy base to inform the enemy that we are ready to die, and I also intend to die at 法庭 based on legitimate reason and with justification up to the end; All of you should feel relieved, and it is vital to resolve not to leave disgrace to later generations, through making more strenuous efforts, because we should fight the last fight, considering dying in this castle.
On the next day, September 23, SAIGO ignored the recommendation to surrender by Sangun Sumiyoshi KAWAMURA, which was brought back by the military messenger Ippo YAMANODA, and did not answer the letter for him from Sangun Yamagata to recommend him to commit suicide.
At 4 AM of September 24, the government army started attacking en masse, when batteries of the government army consecutively fired three times as a signal. At this time, slightly more than 40 high-level samurai, including SAIGO, KIRINO, Hisatake KATSURA, Shinpachi MURATA, IKEGAMI, Shinsuke BEPPU, and Jurota HENMI, lined in front of the cave where SAIGO had stayed, and started advancing for Iwasakiguchi. In starting the advancement, Jusuke KOKUBU and Sokuro OGURA killed themselves by falling on their swords. Before reaching the destination, Hisatake KATSURA was shot dead, followed by many others shot dead one after another. Even SAIGO was shot in the crotch and stomach in front of the gate of Okichikuno SHIMAZU's residence. Looking at Shinsuke BEPPU who was injured and rode on a palanquin, SAIGO said that 'Shindon (Shisuke's pet name), Shindon, we already have done everything we should do, haven't we?' and, in front of those high-level samurai who kneeled down, SAIGO dropped to his knees, straightened up, and bent his head down towards a far place in the east.
After bowing to the far place finished and preparations for suicide by disembowelment were made, Beppu assisted the suicide by beheading SAIGO as soon as he yelled 'Forgive me !'
After this, Shinsuke BEPPU committed suicide by disembowelment at the same place.
KIRINO, Shinpachi MURATA, IKEGAMI, HENMI, YAMANODA, Heihachiro IWAMOTO, who had watched SAIGO committing suicide by disembowelment, rushed into Iwasakiguchi again, and some of them were shot dead, killed themselves by falling on their swords, or were killed in fights while barricading themselves in a fort near to Shigakko.
Around 9 AM, the gunfire stopped. Those including Kuro BEPPU, Oshisuke NOMURA, and Sukezaemon JINGUJI, who did not accept death in battle and considered that they should insist on the meaning of having taken up arms in court, surrendered to a troop of Kumamoto Garrison, and Morokiyo SAKATA to a troop of the 4th brigade. However, the whereabouts of NAKAJIMA, who said that he would neither surrender nor die in fights, are not known even now ('Kagoshima Rojoki' (A record of staying-for-battles in a castle in Kagoshima) records a tale of a witness of the sight of NAKAJIMA being killed in a fight in Iwasakidani.
It seems that this may be the fact.)
As many as 6,403 persons of the government army and as many as 6,765 persons of Saigo's forces died, respectively, in Seinan War. In this war, the Japanese Red Cross Society played an important role in relieving many injured persons.
The organization of the Government Army
Governor-General on Suppression of the rebellion of Kagoshima Prefecture: Imperial Prince Arisugawanomiya Taruhito
The Governor-General's Office
Secretary: Yasumasa FUKUSHIMA
The Shinsen-ryodan brigade
Commander in Chief: Imperial Prince Komatsunomiya Akihito, Major General of the Imperial Army (May 29, 1877 -)
Battalion Commander: Naobumi TATSUMI, Major of the Imperial Army
The 1st brigade
Commander in Chief: Shizuo NOZU, Major General of the Imperial Army
Staff Officer: Shigeo SAMEJIMA, First Lieutenant of kohei (military engineers) (April -)
The 2nd brigade
Commander in Chief: Shigeomi MIYOSHI, Major General of the Imperial Army (February 29 -), Iwao OYAMA, Major General of the Imperial Army (March 10 (served concurrently as the Commander in Chief of the detached 1st brigade) -), and Michinori KUROKAWA, Colonel of the Imperial Army (May 13 -)
Chief of Staff: Michitsura NOZU
Commissioned Officer: Arisawa UEDA
The 3rd brigade
Commander in Chief: Goro MIURA, Major General of the Imperial Army (March 10 -)
Captain: Kageaki KAWAMURA, Captain of the Imperial Army (April -)
The 4th brigade
Deputy Commander in Chief: Michinori KUROKAWA, Colonel of the Imperial Army (April 15 -)
Commander in Chief: Sukenori SOGA, Major General of the Imperial Army (April 16 -)
The detached 1st brigade
Commander in Chief: Iwao OYAMA, Major General of the Imperial Army (February 27 -), and Tomonosuke TAKASHIMA (March 28 -)
Chief of Staff: Kuwashi OKAZAWA
Staff officer: Kanjiro NISHI
Noncommissioned Officer: Sanzo TSUDA (March 11 -)
The detached 2nd brigade
Commander in Chief: Akiyoshi YAMADA, Major General of the Imperial Army (March 28 -)
Hiroshi YAMAKAWA, Lieutenant Colonel
(Assistant Company Commander of the first infantry regiment): Teibi ANDO, First Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant on probation: Satoru NAKAMURA, Second Lieutenant on probation
The detached 3rd brigade
Commander in Chief: Toshiyoshi KAWAJI, Major General of the Imperial Army and the Superintendent-General of the Metropolitan Police Department, and Iwao OYAMA, Major General of the Imperial Army (June 28 (concurrently served as Commander in Chief of the detached 5th brigade)-)
The detached 5th brigade
Commander in Chief: Iwao OYAMA, Major General of the Imperial Army (April 13 -)
Commander in Chief: Takeki TANI, Major General of the Imperial Army
Chief of Staff: Sukenori KABAYAMA, Lieutenant Colonel of the Imperial Army
Deputy Chief of Staff: Gentaro KODAMA, Major of the Imperial Army
The 13th infantry regiment (in Kumamoto)
Regimental Commander: Tomozane YOKURA
Assistant Regimental Commander: Soroku KAWAKAMI, Major of the Imperial Army
Battalion Commander: Yasukata OKU
The 14th infantry regiment (in Kokura)
Assistant Regimental Commander: Maresuke NOGI, Major of the Imperial Army
Battle Flag: Yuta KAWARABAYASHI, Second Lieutenant of the Imperial Army
The 2nd infantry regiment of Tokyo Garrison (in Sakura)
Regimental Officer: Hyoe ICHINOHE
The 3rd infantry regiment of Tokyo Garrison (in Takasaki)
Officer: Michiharu UMEZAWA
The 6th infantry regiment of Nagoya Garrison (in Nagoya)
Regimental Commander: Samata SAKUMA
The 8th infantry regiment of Osaka Garrison (in Osaka)
The 1st Battalion Commander: Major Yoshimasa OSHIMA
The 11th infantry regiment of Hiroshima Garrison (in Hiroshima)
Battalion Commander: Kageaki KAWAMURA, Major of the Imperial Army (April -)
The 12th infantry regiment of Hiroshima Garrison (in Marugame City)
Regimental Commander: Tamemoto KUROKI
Tondenhei (the soldiers for developing and guarding Hokkaido)
Company Commander: Takeshiro NAGAYAMA
The Keishi-tai troop (a troop of police officers)
Naval Fleet Commander: Sukemaro ITO, Rear Admiral of the Imperial Navy
Other members of the forces
Tadanori ISHIGURO (a military doctor), Goro IJUIN, Kanetake OURA, Naomichi OSAKO (at the military academy (in Japan)), Mitsuomi KAMIO, Tadashi SATO (in the era of establishing the army), Tadashi SHIMIZU, Ginnosuke TAMURA, Masatake TERAUCHI (his right arm was injured), Hidenori TOJO, Noboru HAMANO (a military doctor), Motoomi YAMAGUCHI (a battalion commander), and Ryosen TEZUKA (a military doctor)
The Meiji government became to control the entire nation directly by enacting Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures) in 1871. However, the government had to take over the obligation of paying the debt of each domain and the salary of persons in the warrior class so that the amount of the salary payment reached more than 30% of the annual government expenditure. To rebuild the deficit-ridden finance into a more sound one, the national government introduced a conscription system in 1873 and Chitsuroku-shobun (an abolition measure of hereditary stipend) in 1876, appealing equality of all people in order to abolish the warrior class, a privileged class the persons in which could receive salary without being engaged in any productive activity. That set the trend towards dissolving the warrior class, causing the rebellion of persons in the warrior class to occur frequently and leading to the occurrence of the Seinan War.
The military expenditures of the government reached a vast amount of \41 million, almost all of the yearly tax revenue of \48 million. To procure the war cost, the government issued lots of inconvertible paper currency (refer to the national bank (in the Meiji period)), causing inflation. Through tax increases, transfer of government-owned companies to private ownership, and sorting out of currency, Masayoshi MATSUKATA, later Okura-kyo (Minister of the Treasury), made it possible to issue convertible currency, establishing a base on which Japan could become a modern nation ranked with European and US powers. However, due to the Matsukata deflation (also known as the Matsukata finance, a financial measure to induce deflation to eliminate inflation generated by raising funds for the war cost of the Seinan War), more and more farmers became tenant farmers (the ratio of the tenant farmers to all of the farmers increased from 38% to 47%), generating large landowners. The persons who became too poor to continue working as tenant farmers flew into urban areas and were forced to work at low wages in the factories operated by the Zaibatsu (financial cliques or groups, or company syndicates), which were developed from former government-owned companies transferred to private ownership, increasing the number of persons in the poor class in urban areas.
Facing a difficult financial situation, the national government became unable to construct railways, which the government had decided to be 'basically owned by the nation', and therefore, an increasing number of railways became to be constructed with private capital (refer to the railway history in Japan.)
When the Seinan War came to an end, the privileges of the warrior class were denied clearly, and the downfall of the warrior class was determined. The economic confusion having accompanied the war increased the difference between the rich and the poor, reducing many farmers to tenant farmers. On the other hand, some large landowners and Zaibatsu accumulated capital, taking the opportunity to become primitive stage capitalists. In the society, importance became to be placed on 'money' more than on 'social status', resultantly advancing the modernization of Japan.
The Establishment of a Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy was established.
Beginning of Politics led by Ministry of Interior
Politics led by the lawmakers representing the interests of the Ministry of Interior, which has been dominated by the faction from the Choshu domain even after the defeat in the Pacific War, started.
The Seinan War, which is the last civil war in Japan, put an end to the military professional jobs of the warrior class at the conclusion. The fact that the government army, mostly composed of conscripted soldiers, won the war against Saigo's army, mainly consisted of persons in the warrior class, verified that the fighting ability of soldiers from the warrior class and that of those from farmers were not different; accordingly, a system of general conscription was established.
The government army correctly grasped that the factors of its victory were its superior modernized equipment, firepower, means of communication, and command ability. Therefore, in the policies of modernizing forces after the Seinan War, the government army kept its policies of deploying regular troops based on conscription, and of modernizing equipment and the supreme command.
On the other hand, although having been superior in troop strength and firepower, soldiers in Kumamoto Garrison were often defeated by soldiers from warrior class in Saigo's army in strategic fights.
There is an opinion that, seeing the sight that soldiers from warrior class in Satsuma furiously rushed in with swords and waged hand-to-hand fights with swords, the Japanese army became to place importance on hand-to-hand fights. However, as described above, even after this war, the Army in the Meiji period aimed at gaining fire superiority (the policy that the quality of the firepower of guns and artillery decides the war) as in other nations.
The reasons why Saigo's army was stronger in hand-to-hand fights are considered as follows: Saigo's army occupied a vantage ground, and there was a tremendous difference in the sword-handling ability between the warrior class, who had been familiar with handling swords, and the conscripted soldiers, who had had only a few years of sword-handling training.
The Japanese Army started placing importance on hand-to-hand fights when it was predicted that hand-to-hand fights would occur frequently when the infiltration strategy, employed through a study on the First World War, was to be used.
Infiltration strategies were actually executed in a full scale. In the Second Shanghai Jihen (Shanghai incident), in which short-distance battles occurred in various places, the main arms of the Japanese soldiers were grenades and tenth-year (Taisho 10, or 1921) type grenade launchers. On the other hand, it is famous that the Soviet soldiers challenged the Japanese soldiers to traditional hand-to-hand fights in the August attack in the Nomonhan incident.
For the government Army, how to raise fighting spirit and morale of the soldiers was a problem to be solved. From the lessons obtained through the Seinan War, the tendency of emphasizing moral education for conscripted soldiers became stronger. Reasoning that the supreme commander Takamori SAIGO raised the fighting spirit of Saigo's army, the national government in the Meiji period appointed Emperor to the commander-in-chief of the Imperial Army and Navy to raise the morale of the armies.
Even after the equipment for manufacturing ammunition for Snider rifles was confiscated, Saigo's army continued fighting with Enfield guns, and therefore, the government army was forced to spend lots of war cost to suppress the attacks of the Saigo's army. So as not to repeat that mistake, the government started to withdraw the muzzle loaders, which were an older model but superior in the ability to continue war and stored in various places throughout the nation, in 1878 after the end of the Seinan War. Then, the government managed to prohibit the possession of arms by the general public to prevent a civil war by converting all of the withdrawn guns into Snider rifles, making the arms factories monopolized by the national Army, and regulating the possession of military guns more strictly.
Nanshu SAIGO and the War in the Tenth Year of Meiji (1877)
Around that time, whether SAIGO participated in the rebellion in Satsuma or not was a question. Actually, because even OYAMA said that 'SAIGO never participates in the rebellion', the general public also said that 'SAIGO does not participate in it, because OYAMA says so'. However, I said that 'It is not true: Even if SAIGO has no idea of aiding the rebellion, he would eventually become involved in it by others, according to the obtained information'.
Virtue of SAIGO Sensei (sensei: a honorific)
In Kumamoto Prefecture in these days, all people in the warrior, farmer, artisan, and merchant classes seemed to adore the Satsuma soldiers, saying that there is nothing improper about them. The virtues of SAIGO Sensei would shine for ever.
Wretched States in the Besieged Castle.
As the siege of the castle dragged on, the provisions began diminishing. The cigarettes were also running out. The suffering experienced by Viscount TANI would be unimaginable for anyone except those like me who were besieged there as well. Since Viscount TANI said that high-ranking officers need not to go into battle, all of us sipped chestnut porridge, and jumped at the opportunity to stew the meat of military horses shot dead and ate it.
The Collection of Enemy's Bullets by Saigo's Army
On that day (March 18), Takehei FUKUDA, a secret messenger from the front troop, came from Ueki. He said to his master that the rebel army lacked bullets, and made villagers collect the bullets that our forces shot and bought them 2 rin 5 mo (rin and mo: monetary units at that time) per bullet. However, the rebel army only gave tickets in payment of the bullets. The villagers asked the army to pay them in cash but it never did. After having realized that they were cheated, the villagers never collected the bullets again.
The Koban-toge Pass
The Koban-toge Pass was located at the boundary between Kuma County and Yatsushiro County, approx 19 km from Yatsushiro. The mountain roads on all sides were so steep that it was said if a strong warrior occupied the place, no weak warriors could pass it, even if they would number 10,000. No rebel guarded the place. Our soldiers passed this place without consuming a bullet, reaching Yamaguchi Village. With only about ten houses existing in the village, all of the villagers went to the foot of the mountain and drunk the water of the mountain streams. The land did not yield rice, and the villagers ate potatoes, Japanese millet and the like. The place was a quite isolated village in a mountain.
Recovery from a Hopeless Situation
In collecting the dead body of the war after this, it is said that a low-level soldier, whose eye was shot by a gun, was out of Shogai for eight days, ate nothing and drank nothing, but was still alive. The soldier was moved to a hospital, but could not say a word, only opening his eye. It is said that an egg was added to liquor hurriedly and made the soldier drink it, then the soldier regained consciousness.
On this day (July 1), Deputy Corporal Shozo INOMATA was at a kitchen in Tsuboya Village. Although having been defeated in Takahatayama, he had not received to move the kitchen, then, he collected cooking utensil and waited for a command. The troop commander went down a valley and retreated to Okamoto, and therefore, there was no time to send his command, and the rebels had already rushed in Tsuboya. INOMATA was attacked in the end. People regretted that he had fulfilled his duties well.
Satsuma army Suffering Extreme Hardships
More and more rebel army soldiers began to surrender day by day, and all surrendered soldiers including those who were wounded talked hardships of the rebel army. A certain soldier IJUIN said that a person who returned from Miyakonojo 45 days ago talked about the hardships that he ate strawberries, leaves, and grass, and even soil for four days. Kinjiro TAKEUCHI, who ran back the other day, also talked that their hardships were so extreme, for example, as to have used hard tree chips for bullets for small guns.
Three-stringed Japanese banjo and Female Low Wooden Clogs in the Leaders' Office
It was slightly before the dawn on the 18th of the month when Jurota HENMI, a commander of the Satsuma army, led the Senpo-tai troop and attacked the government army at Mt. Eno. Since it was just the time when the defense soldiers of the government army changed, the ensuing confusion and crowds of the defense soldiers were almost beyond description. Then HENMI flied down a precipice with irresistible force, high-jumped a reed field, and cut his way into the leaders' office of the government army (the 1st and 2nd brigades) quickly like lightning, shouting loudly. Shrunk back from his momentum, the government army scattered, and Major General MIYOSHI and Major General NOZU at the leaders' office were panic-stricken and fled, losing their staying places. The disgraceful behavior constituted an unbearable scene. When we entered the leaders' office following HENMI, among various abandoned goods, the things that attracted our attention slightly were a three-stringed Japanese banjo and a pair of female low wooden clogs. These were certainly the things placed in the leaders' office of the government army.