The Battle of Fushimi Castle (伏見城の戦い)

The Battle of Fushimi Castle is a preliminary skirmish of the Battle of Sekigahara, which took place from August 26, to September 8, 1600.

Background

After the death of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, who was seeking the post of tenkabito (the ruler of the kingdom), began invading the Aizu Domain to attack Kagekatsu UESUGI's army in 1600, claiming that Uesugi was a treacherous retainer who rebelled against the administrative authority because he had often ignored the order to go to the capital. One year earlier, the chief minister, Toshiie MAEDA who had belonged to the TOYOTOMI faction and been ranked with Ieyasu, died from an illness, and the anti-Ieyasu faction including Mitsunari ISHIDA, one of the five commissioners (administrative organ of feudal Japan established by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI), fell from power. Ieyasu left around 1800 soldiers, including hereditary vassals such as Mototada TORII, Ienaga NAITO, Ietada MATSUDAIRA and Chikamasa MATSUDAIRA, in the Fushimi-jo Castle to protect the territories in the vicinity of the capital, and proceeded to the Aizu Domain with the leading soldiers of his army. Mitsunari ISHIDA, who saw the military presence within the territories in the vicinity of the capital as an opportunity, massed various anti-Ieyasu Daimyo, such as Terumoto MORI, Hideie UKITA and Yoshitsugu OTANI, raised an army, and on July 17, purged the Rusuiyaku (persons representing the master during his absence), who remained in the western citadel of Osaka-jo Castle on orders from Ieyasu, and then thrust 13 articles of impeachment upon Ieyasu. On the next day, July 18, an order to surrender Fushimi-jo Castle was issued to the defending general, Mototada TORII, in the name of Terumoto MORI, the commander-in-chief of the western army. Mototada, who had been told to defend the castle to the death by Ieyasu, refused this order, and the western army surrounded Fushimi-jo Castle and started attacking.

The Battle of Fushimi Castle

The army, which was attacking Fushimi-jo Castle, consisted of 40,000 soldiers led by Hideie UKITA, the commander-in-chief, and Hideaki KOBAYAKAWA, the adjutant general, with other members including Hidemoto MORI, Hiroie YOSHIKAWA, Yukinaga KONISHI, Yoshihiro SHIMAZU, Morichika CHOSOKABE, Masaie NAGATSUKA and Katsushige NABESHIMA. The defensive force, on the other hand, consisted of 1,800 soldiers lead by Mototada TORII, the commander-in-chief. Fushimi-jo Castle was a huge building built by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, and the battle should have come to an end in a short period of time given the difference in the size of the forces; however, the attacking force faced a hard time against the defensive force. The reasons for this include the facts that Mototada TORII, the commander-in-chief, and his troop fought back unexpectedly against the attacking force and that the besieging army had some soldiers who had been forced to join the western army by Mitsunari and some other people and thus had little will to fight.

To bring an end to this situation, Yoshihiro SHIMAZU had his subordinate, Masaie NAGATSUKA, round up the wives and children of the Koga group in the castle and ordered him to threaten the Koga group by saying that they would crucify the wives and children unless they surrendered the castle. Because Masaie was the feudal lord of the Minakuchi-okayama-jo Castle in Omi Province, he had close ties to Koga people, and there were some people of Koga County as well as people of the Tokugawa clan from Iga Province in the castle. The Koga group yielded to the threat and set the castle alight. Mototada, who was cornered by this betrayal, died in battle on August 1 and Fushimi-jo Castle was finally surrendered.

Influence

This battle was a preliminary skirmish of the main Battle of Sekigahara, which took place on September 15. The western army's delay in occupying Fushimi-jo Castle, which was expected to be completed within a few days but in fact took 10 days, is said to have been a factor in the delay of attacking Mino Province and Ise Province, to which the western army was going to proceed after taking Fushimi-jo Castle.

It is also said that the reason why Ieyasu TOKUGAWA left such a small defensive force including Mototada TORII, in the castle and proceeded to the Aizu Domain was because he was aiming to let anti-Ieyasu people such as Mitsunari ISHIDA raise an army. In fact, Ieyasu was actually in Edo-jo Castle on July 18 and finally left for Aizu Domain with his army on July 21.