The Battle of Utsunomiya Castle(宇都宮城の戦いUtsunomiyajō no tatakai) was a battle between pro-imperial and Tokugawa shogunate forces during the Boshin War in Japan in May 1868. It occurred as the troops of the Tokugawa shogunate were retreating north towards Nikkō and Aizu.
The Tokugawa Shogunate, also known as the Tokugawa Bakufu (徳川幕府) and the Edo Bakufu (江戸幕府), was the last feudal Japanese military government, which existed between 1603 and 1867. The head of government was the shōgun, and each was a member of the Tokugawa clan. The Tokugawa shogunate ruled from Edo Castle and the years of the shogunate became known as the Edo period. This time is also called the Tokugawa period or pre-modern.
The Boshin War, sometimes known as the Japanese Revolution, was a civil war in Japan, fought from 1868 to 1869 between forces of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate and those seeking to return political power to the Imperial Court.
Aizu (会津) is the westernmost of the three regions of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, the other two regions being Nakadōri in the central area of the prefecture and Hamadōri in the east. As of October 1, 2010, it had a population of 291,838. The principal city of the area is Aizuwakamatsu.
In early spring 1868, former Tokugawa retainers under Ōtori Keisuke and Hijikata Toshizō left the shōgun's capital of Edo en masse and gathered at Kōnodai [ citation needed ]. There were small numbers of men of Aizu under Akizuki Noborinosuke and Kuwana troops under Tatsumi Naofumi also present, as well as a handful of surviving shinsengumi , such as Shimada Kai. While many of their numbers were samurai, there were also many members of other social classes present, particularly under Ōtori's direct command. Their objective was Utsunomiya, a castle town on the road northward to Nikkō and Aizu, which was a position of vital strategic importance. The daimyō of Utsunomiya, Toda Tadatomo, was absent, as he had been charged by Tokugawa Yoshinobu with traveling to Kyoto and submitting a letter of apology and submission. Upon his arrival in Ōtsu, Toda was met by Satsuma–Chōshū forces and placed under confinement, as such a message reaching the ears of Emperor Meiji might have resulted in a premature pardon that would have complicated the alliance's anti-Tokugawa military objectives. This left Utsunomiya in the hands of Tadatomo's retired predecessor, Toda Tadayuki, who also advocated surrender, but was not involved in the efforts of the former Shogunate.
Ōtori Keisuke was a Japanese military leader and diplomat.
Hijikata Toshizō was a Japanese warrior. As Vice-Commander of the Shinsengumi, he resisted the Meiji Restoration.
Edo, also romanized as Jedo, Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of Tokyo. It was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868. During this period, it grew to become one of the largest cities in the world and home to an urban culture centered on the notion of a "floating world".
In the days prior to the attack, the former Shogunate forces were moving quickly in the area from castle to castle, with Hijikata taking two domains in Hitachi Province—Shimotsuma and Shimodate—on May 7 and May 8. However, as these domains were small and their daimyō had fled, they did not have much in terms of money or supplies, and Hijikata was unable to acquire what he had hoped for.Almost simultaneously, a peasant riot broke out in Utsunomiya, giving the former Shogunate forces the perfect opportunity to strike, which they seized without delay. Ōtori's forces launched their attack on the castle on the morning of May 10, 1868, facing off against the combined imperial force made up of troops from Matsumoto (Shinano Province, 60,000 koku ), Kurobane (Shimotsuke Province, 18,000 koku), Mibu (Shimotsuke Province, 18,000 koku), Iwamurata (Shinano Province, 18,000 koku), Susaka (Shinano Province, 12,000 koku), Hikone (Ōmi Province, 350,000 koku), Ōgaki (Mino Province, 100,000 koku), Utsunomiya (Shimotsuke Province, 77,000 koku), and Kasama (Hitachi Province, 80,000 koku). The castle fell the same day, with Toda Tadayuki escaping to Tatebayashi. Ōtori, leading the main element of the army, entered the castle. His forces handed out the castle's supply of rice to the townsfolk who, as previously noted, had been rioting for the past several days.
Hitachi Province was an old province of Japan in the area of Ibaraki Prefecture. It was sometimes called Jōshū (常州). Hitachi Province bordered on Iwashiro, Iwaki, Shimōsa, and Shimotsuke Provinces.
Shimotsuma Domain was a feudal domain under the Tokugawa shogunate of Edo period Japan, located in Hitachi Province, Japan. It was centered on Shimotsuma Jin'ya in what is now the city of Shimotsuma, Ibaraki. It was ruled for much of its history by a junior branch of the Inoue clan; however, it suffered from frequent changes of rules due to the tendency of the Inoue daimyō to die at young ages.
Shimodate Domain was a feudal domain under the Tokugawa shogunate of Edo period Japan, located in Hitachi Province, Japan. It was centered on Shimodate Castle in what is now the city of Chikusei, Ibaraki. It was ruled for much of its history by a junior branch of the Ishikawa clan.
Efforts were then made to strengthen the position of Ōtori's force. Ōtori's men, now linked up with Hijikata's force, including others such as former Shinsengumi member Nagakura Shinpachi's unit, Seiheitai,headed north to Mibu, where they intended to hide and lie in wait; however, upon their arrival they discovered that Satsuma forces had already taken the castle. The Satsuma troops, shocked at the sudden appearance of the enemy, withdrew into Mibu Castle and mounted a defense; and while the attackers had intended to set fire to the castle town, a torrential rain began, and made that impossible. Despite their best efforts, this combined unit was not able to take Mibu Castle, and withdrew to Utsunomiya after sustaining a total of 60 men killed and wounded, including eight officers.
Nagakura Shinpachi was the former captain of the 2nd troop of the Shinsengumi, He was later known as Sugimura Yoshie during the Meiji era.
From the south, the imperial army, with Satsuma and Ōgaki forces leading the way,swept up in a northeastward direction over the Mibu-kaidō road on May 14, launching a counterattack which resulted in the re-capture of Utsunomiya Castle on the same day. Faced with defeat, Ōtori's forces withdrew northward, by way of Nikkō, on to Aizu.
While the Aizu domain previously advocated surrender and peaceful negotiation first and resistance second, the entrance of massive numbers of loyalists to the former Shogunate, following their retreat from Utsunomiya, forced its hand firmly into the realm of armed resistance:
... soldiers of the Shogunate, who supported continued war, began decamping en masse and leaving Edo for Aizu, which necessitated Aizu's stance to be changed to one that was pro-war. Men such as senior councilor Saigō Tanomo and agriculture magistrate Kawahara Zenzaemon continued to push for allegiance and submission, however, they were not heard, and the clouds of war spread over northeastern Japan ...
In later years, Ōtori wrote an account of the battle, titled "Nanka Kikō" (南柯紀行), which appeared in Kyū Bakufu (舊幕府), a magazine he helped edit and which was devoted to documenting Bakumatsu history.
Kondō Isami was a Japanese swordsman and official of the late Edo period. He was the fourth generation master of Tennen Rishin-ryū and was famed for his role as commander of the Shinsengumi.
The Shinsengumi(新選組, "New Selected Group") was a special police force organized by the Bakufu during Japan's Bakumatsu period in 1863. It was active until 1869. It was founded to protect the shogunate representatives in Kyoto at a time when a controversial imperial edict to exclude foreign trade from Japan had been made and the Chōshū clan had been forced from the imperial court. The men were drawn from the sword schools of Edo.
Okita Sōji was the captain of the first unit of the Shinsengumi, a special police force in Kyoto during the late shogunate period. He was one of the best swordsmen of the Shinsengumi.
Saitō Hajime was a Japanese samurai of the late Edo period, who most famously served as the captain of the third unit of the Shinsengumi. He was one of the few core members who survived the numerous wars of the Bakumatsu period. He was later known as Fujita Gorō and worked as a police officer in Tokyo during the Meiji Restoration.
Yamanami Keisuke was a Japanese samurai. He was the General Secretary of the Shinsengumi, a special police force in Kyoto during the late Edo period.
Harada Sanosuke was a Japanese warrior (samurai) who lived in the late Edo period. He was the 10th unit captain of the Shinsengumi, and died during the Boshin War.
Matsudaira Katamori was a samurai who lived in the last days of the Edo period and the early to mid Meiji period. He was the 9th daimyō of the Aizu han and the Military Commissioner of Kyoto during the Bakumatsu period. During the Boshin War, Katamori and the Aizu han fought against the Meiji Government armies, but were severely defeated. Katamori's life was spared, and he later became the Chief of the Tōshōgū Shrine. He, along with his three brothers Sadaaki, Yoshikatsu, and Mochiharu, had highly influential roles during the Meiji Restoration and were called the four Takasu brothers.
Okita Rintarō was a Japanese samurai of the late Edo period who was a kumigashira of the Shinchōgumi.
The Battle of Kōshū-Katsunuma was a battle between pro-Imperial and Tokugawa shogunate forces during the Boshin War in Japan. The battle followed the Battle of Toba–Fushimi on 29 March 1868.
The Battle of Ueno was a battle of the Boshin War, which occurred on July 4, 1868, between the troops of the Shōgitai under Shibusawa Seiichirō and Amano Hachirō, and Imperial "Kangun" troops.
Tōdō Heisuke was a samurai of Japan's late Edo period who served as the eighth unit captain of the Shinsengumi. His full name was Tōdō Heisuke Fujiwara no Yoshitora.
The Rōshigumi, the "Kyoto Defenders", was a group of 234 masterless samurai (rōnin), founded by Kiyokawa Hachirō in 1862. Loyal to the Bakufu, they were supposed to act as the protectors of the Tokugawa shōgun, but were disbanded upon their arrival in Kyoto, Japan in 1863.
Mibu Domain was a feudal domain under the Tokugawa shogunate of Edo period Japan, located in Tsuga District of Shimotsuke Province, Japan. It was centered on Mibu Castle in what is now part of the town of Mibu, Tochigi. Mibu was ruled through much of its history by a branch of the fudai Torii clan.
Matsudaira Sadaaki was a Japanese daimyō of the Bakumatsu period, who was the last ruler of the Kuwana Domain. Sadaaki was the adopted heir of Matsudaira Sadamichi, the descendant of Sadatsuna, the third son of Hisamatsu Sadakatsu (1569–1623), who was Tokugawa Ieyasu's brother. His family was known as the Hisamatsu Matsudaira clan. It was to this family that Matsudaira Sadanobu also belonged.
Mibu Castle is a Japanese castle located in Mibu, southern Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. At the end of the Edo period, Mibu Castle was home to a branch of the Torii clan, daimyō of Mibu Domain.
Utsunomiya Domain was a feudal domain under the Tokugawa shogunate of Edo period Japan, located in Shimotsuke Province, Japan. It was centered on Utsunomiya Castle in what is now part of the city of Utsunomiya. Utsunomiya was ruled by numerous daimyō clans during its history.
Utsunomiya Castle is a Japanese castle located in Utsunomiya, central Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. At the end of the Edo period, Utsunomiya Castle was home to a branch of the Toda clan, daimyō of Utsunomiya Domain.