Historical Battles

Historical Battles

Once you have selected historical battles from the main menu, mouse over the title of each battle for a short description, then click on a crossed swords symbol to play that battle. The following battles are included:

The Battle of Kawagoe (1545)

By the late 16th century, the Hojo clan had expanded into the Kanto region; territory previously ruled by their rivals the Uesugi. In 1545, seeking to reclaim the lost land, the two remaining branches of the Uesugi clan - the Yamanouchi and the Ogigayatsu – joined forces alongside Ashikaga Haruuji, a treacherous former Hojo ally. The Uesugi besieged Kawagoe castle with 85,000 men, capture of which would give them control of the valuable Hojo northern defences. Leading the garrison of 3,000 was Hojo Tsunanari, who managed to get word of the siege to his brother, Hojo Ujiyasu, in command of another 8,000 troops. Still massively outnumbered, the Hojo brothers' only chance was a surprise night attack on the overconfident Uesugi. This daring assault resulted in disarray and utter defeat for the Uesugi and their allies. Ogigayatsu Tomosada was killed during the battle, bringing his line to an end. The Uesugi were also brought dangerously close to extinction.

The 4th Battle of Kawanakajima (1561)

The rivalry began when Takeda Shingen's conquests resulted in the expulsion of Uesugi allies Murakami Yoshiharu and Ogasawara Nagatoki from their fiefs and the Takeda began to threaten Uesugi Kenshin's borders. Following a number of indecisive skirmishes, Kenshin decided to launch a massive assault to finally rid himself of Shingen. Kenshin's army of 18,000 was positioned on the mountain of Saijoyama, looking down upon Shingen's castle, and were unaware that they had caught him by surprise with only a small garrison present. Shingen, absent at the time, received word of Kenshin's move and travelled to fortify the castle with 20,000 warriors, keeping the river between his force and Kenshin's as protection. Once back inside the walls, Shingen attempted to trap Kenshin in a pincer movement, but the move was anticipated and Kenshin's army broke through the Takeda defensive lines. Legend has it that Kenshin and Shingen personally met in battle and, caught off-guard in his command tent, Shingen fought defensively until a retainer could spear Kenshin's horse and drive him away. Neither side was able to claim outright victory as, despite the eventual rout of the Uesugi army following a flanking action to their rear, the Takeda also lost many important generals in the battle. The 4th Battle of Kawanakajima resulted in the greatest number of casualties of any battle during the Sengoku Jidai.

The 2nd Battle of Kizugawaguchi (1578)

The Ikko-Ikki proved to be a great thorn in the side of Oda Nobunaga. They were fanatically dedicated, unafraid to die for their beliefs and had many powerful allies – who also happened to be enemies and rivals of Oda. Their main fortress was the Ishiyama Hongan-Ji, at the mouth of the Yodo River, and they were supported by the Mori, a clan with formidable naval power. Oda Nobunaga had begun besieging the Hongan-Ji in 1576, but was met with great opposition. Seeking to weaken them, he set about isolating the monks from outside aid by breaking the Mori naval supply lines. Despite using Kuki Yoshitaka as his naval commander, who had served him so well at Nagashima, Oda's fleet was outclassed by the superior Mori armada. For his second attempt, he discarded traditional fleet composition and instead replaced it with six giant, specially commissioned, iron-plated warships. These were called "o-ataka bunes" and were larger than the ataka bunes, which in themselves were massive vessels. However, the battle revealed a flaw in the ships: when one was boarded, the crew rushed to meet the threat and the sudden shift in weight capsized it! However, the o adake bunes still proved their worth, beating the Mori and cutting off the Ikko-Ikki's supplies. With no aid or allies to help them, the Ikko-Ikki soon used up all their resources and were forced to capitulate in 1580, granting Oda Nobunaga his long sought victory.

The 3rd Siege of Nagashima (1574)

Oda Nobunaga considered the rebellious Ikko-Ikki a very real threat, and one he would have to overcome if he was to rule Japan. The Ikko-Ikki was a religious fundamentalist sect made up of priests, peasants and farmers who fought for independent rule and rallied against the samurai warlords who were ravaging their land. In 1571, Nobunaga launched a campaign against them by attacking their Nagashima complex. However, his men were hindered by the poor, muddy terrain which left them vulnerable, forcing a retreat. A second attempt was made in 1573, but this time a heavy downpour drenched the Oda army's matchlocks, and a swift counter-attack by the Ikko-Ikki once again forced him to withdraw. In 1574 Oda took a different approach, this time bolstering his land forces with a naval fleet commanded by Kuki Yoshitaka. Kuki's ships bombarded the Ikko-Ikki defences with fire arrows, whilst also cutting them off from any supplies or reinforcements. Meanwhile, Oda's land forces captured their forts until he had gained control of the west side of the island. Having established this foothold, the Ikko-Ikki back were forced back until they were cornered in a small area of the island. Cut off from supplies and any chance of relief, the Ikko-Ikki starved whilst a tall palisade was built around them. Oda set fire to the palisade, burning alive everyone inside.

The Battle of Nagashino (1575)

In 1575, a combined Oda and Tokugawa force of 38,000 was sent to alleviate Nagashino Castle, then besieged by Takeda Katsuyori. Though the Takeda army of 15,000 was vastly outnumbered, his cavalry was incredibly powerful and were dreaded by the allies, who had previously suffered defeat at their hands on the field at Mikatagahara. Oda Nobunaga himself possessed 3,000 matchlock troops, believing that a solid wall of arquebusiers could stop the Takeda cavalry charge in its tracks. The allied forces were positioned in front of the Rengogawa River and Oda Nobunaga built a wooden stockade to protect his men from the brunt of the enemy charge. Takeda Katsuyori sent his cavalry to attack, believing that the heavy rain would render most of the guns useless and that those that did work could not be reloaded quickly enough for a second barrage. However, Nobunaga's matchlocks remained dry and unleashed their fire upon the Takeda cavalry as they slowed down to negotiate the steep banks of the river, resulting in the routing of the Takeda army and the lifting of the siege at Nagashino.

The Battle of Okehazama (1560)

In 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto, a great warlord, marched an army of approximately 25,000 towards Kyoto. He had spread word that his army had far greater numbers in order to strike fear into the hearts of potential challengers, and his army had already taken the Oda clan's border fortresses of Washizu and Marune. Oda Nobunaga was the ruler of the Oda province, but his rise to power had been controversial and he was still unproven. He sent out scouts, who reported back that the army was celebrating their recent victories with dance and drink at a forest gorge called Dengaku-hazama. Although his army was vastly outnumbered, Oda rightly suspected that the reports of Imagawa's numbers had been greatly exaggerated and realised that, while they were camped at Dengaku-hazama, there was a chance they could be taken by surprise. Ignoring the pleas of his advisors to surrender, he set up a small army in front of the gorge that carried many banners to give the appearance that his main force had arrived. Then, Oda's main force of 3000 sneaked through the forest to the rear of Imagawa's camp. At this point a large storm erupted, enabling them to get close without detection. Once it cleared, Oda's army rushed into the camp. The Imagawa army was indeed still celebrating, was caught by surprise and were so shocked that they fled in all directions - their discipline and training entirely forgotten. This left Imagawa Yoshimoto unprotected in his tent and still unaware that anything was wrong. He had been inspecting the heads he had collected as trophies from the last battle and, upon hearing the commotion, simply thought the drunken revelry had gotten out of control. As he left the tent, he mistook one of Nobunaga's men as his own and ordered him back to his post. He realised his error in time to dodge the samurai's spear, but was quickly beheaded by another. By the time the battle was over, only two of the Imagawa officers remained and, knowing they were beaten, they joined Oda Nobunaga's force along with their surviving troops. One of these men was Tokugawa Ieyasu, who remained a lifelong ally of Oda Nobunaga as he began his own brilliant career trajectory.

The Battle of Anegawa (1570)

In 1570, during Oda Nobunaga's campaign to become Shogun, he chose to besiege Odani Castle, home of his new enemy Asai Nagamasa. Asai had recently broken his alliance with Oda, presenting a danger to the flanks of the Oda forces stationed in the region. When Oda and his ally Tokugawa Ieyasu moved against the castle Asai and his allies sallied out to meet the attackers. What followed was a bloody struggle in the flowing waters of the River Anegawa. Although the Asai fought well and seemed on the verge of defeating Oda, the budding warlord managed to hold them in place (by excellent tactical use of his 500 matchlock ashigaru) until Tokugawa, having dispensed with Asai's allies, could wheel around and attack the Asai right flank. At this point the Oda general Inaba Ittetsu, who had been hitherto held in reserve, brought his force to bear on the Asai left flank. Eventually realising that the day had gone against him, Asai retreated and withdrew back inside the castle, leaving Oda and his allies depleted and weary of battle. Oda didn't attack Odani Castle again for three years, during which time the Asai managed to inflict a retaliatory defeat upon him which resulted in the death of Oda Nobuharu, Nobunaga's younger brother.

The Battle of Sekigahara (1600)

Before his death, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, unifier of Japan, established the Council of Five Elders to rule as regents until his heir Hideyori, came of age. However, one of the elders, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was unable to accept Toyotomi Hideyori as Shogun, as the Toyotomi were originally of peasant stock. Wanting power for himself, Tokugawa pitted himself against the loyalist council members, including Ishida Mitsunari. Soon there were two camps; Ieyasu's eastern side and Mitsunari's western side. Both sides tried to enlist the aid of Kobayakawa Hideaki and other more moderate daimyos. At the Battle of Sekigahara, Ieyasu and Mitsunari's armies clashed, each awaiting Hideaki to join their side in the battle. As his position overlooked them, Hideaki could either surround Ieyasu or bolster his army. Realising that his involvement was crucial to the outcome, Hideaki ignored Ishida Mitsunari's signal to join him, but did not rush to help the Tokugawa either. To coax him into action, Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered his troops to fire upon Hideaki's, a gamble which paid off when he promptly chose to join Ieyasu! The subsequent assault on eastern positions caused four generals to immediately switch sides, severely weakening the eastern forces, which soon fell apart. In the aftermath of the battle several eastern generals committed suicide, their leader Ishida Mitsunari was executed and many others lost control of their fiefdoms in favour of those who supported the Tokugawa. Ieyasu himself went on to become Shogun, bringing the Sengoku Jidai to a close. The Tokugawa clan ruled Japan until the Meiji Restoration in 1867.

The Battle of Toba-Fushimi (1868)

Following the anti-Shogunate political intrigues set in motion by the Satsuma and Choshu domains, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the Shogun, sent his army to report his suspicions to the Emperor. At least, that was the pretext. There had recently been much provocation of Shogunate forces in the capital city, Kyoto, and it is thought that Tokugawa intended to remove the radical elements from the Imperial Court. As his army approached Kyoto they found a Satsuma force blocking the route. Armed with new Western artillery, the Satsuma and their allies, the Choshu, had no intention of allowing the Shogun's army into Kyoto. They raised the banner of the Emperor against the army of the Shogun. War became inevitable. After two bloody days of fighting the Shogun's army were in retreat to his base at the mighty Osaka Castle.

The Siege of Osaka Castle (1868)

Unexpected defeat at the hands of Satsuma and Choshu armies left the Shogunate reeling. To make matters worse, Tokugawa Yoshinobu promised to command his forces during the next phase, but then he fled Osaka Castle upon seeing the Imperial banner, shaken by the Emperor's apparent endorsement of his enemies. Nevertheless, as the Imperial army approached Osaka, intending to burn the symbol of an outmoded Shogunate to the ground, Yoshinobu's remaining troops deployed to defend their castle to the last man…

The Battle of Ueno (1868)

Following his surrender of the capital and his resignation, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the former Shogun, retired to his family's Kan'ei-ji Temple at Ueno. However, the Shogitai, the forces loyal to his office, refused to give up the fight so easily. They continued to harass the Imperial army as it occupied Edo. Eventually, and despite a disparity of numbers, the Imperial forces, chiefly the Satsuma, attacked Kan'ei-ji. Despite heavy casualties, the Satsuma managed to pin down the entrenched Shogitai until the Choshu, the Satsuma's allies, charged the defenders' rear. Although outnumbered, the Imperial army's use of the most modern available guns tipped the balance in their favour. Most of the Shogitai leaders escaped by sea, including the abbot of the temple, Prince Yoshihisa, who was actually a member of the Imperial family and a candidate for the Imperial throne if the Shogunate won.

The Battle of Aizu (1868)

The domain of Aizu provided constant resistance to the Imperialists during the Boshin war, so following the fall of Edo represented the keystone of the northern resistance. The Imperial forces resolved to break the back of this opposition, marching to war with Aizu in the Autumn of 1868. Through the Bonari Pass and into Aizu itself the invaders met with stout resistance but eventually forced the capitulation of Matsudaira Katamori, the daimyo of Aizu, in November of that year. The campaign is famous for the tenacious defence mounted by the citizens of Aizu, and in particular the White Tigers, the youngest of the enlisted Aizu soldiers. Mistakenly believing their home town lost, all but one committed seppuku on a hillside overlooking the castle. Following the battle, the traditional values espoused by their story resonated strongly through a Japan struggling to come to terms with its rapid modernisation.

The Battle of Miyako Bay (1869)

On 6th May 1869, the Imperial Navy reached the northern island of Hokkaido and the rebel forces of the so-called "Ezo Republic". However, the former Shogunate forces were ready for them, and launched several ships to head off the Imperial ships. Unfortunately, two of the Ezo ships had engine trouble. The Banryu got left behind and returned to port while the Takao couldn't join the battle by the time Kaiten, the Ezo flagship, attacked and boarded its opposite number, the iron-clad Kotetsu. To make matters worse, the height difference between the Kaiten and the Kotetsu meant that the rebel samurai were unable to board en masse. Once the Kotetsu's Gatling gun opened up the boarders were easily mown down. Somehow, the Kaiten managed to disengage and escape Miyako Bay, but the Takao, still crippled by engine failure, was beached and scuttled close by. The daring attempt to capture the Imperial flagship ended in failure, allowing the Imperial Army to land and proceed to Hakodate for the final battle of the war.

The Battle of Hakodate (1869)

In October 1868, towards the end of the Boshin War, the remaining forces of the Shogunate attempted to consolidate under the banner of the Ezo Republic. Around 3000 rebels retreated to the northern island of Hokkaido and occupied a massive star-fort known as Goryokaku. Built in the European style to counter potential threats from foreign aggressors, Goryokaku was thought to be virtually impregnable to assault. Even so, the rebels, and their French military advisors, lost no time in fortifying the surrounding countryside against the inevitable Imperial attack. Following the naval Battle of Miyako, Imperial forces landed on 9th April 1869. What followed was a period of intense fighting, as the Emperor's men systematically defeated the entrenched rebel troops before besieging and capturing Goryokaku itself. Following the loss of around half its troop strength and the unexpected and hurried departure of its French military advisors, the Ezo Republic surrendered on 17th May 1869.