Tokugawa Ieyasu: The Background, Strategies, Tactics and Battlefield Experiences of the Greatest Commanders of History
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Osprey Command Series #24
Towards the end of the 16th century three outstanding commanders brought Japan's century of civil wars to an end, and even though reunification was first achieved under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it was his successor Tokugawa Ieyasu who was to ensure a lasting peace.
In terms of his strategic and political achievements Ieyasu ranks as Japan's greatest samurai commander. His battlefield prowess, however, needs careful consideration before accolades are offered, because Ieyasu was undoubtedly a lucky general. Mikata ga Hara, for example, was a defeat that the onset of winter saved from being a rout.
Ieyasu's crowning victory at Sekigahara depended very much on the defection to his side of Kobayakawa Hideaki, and the absence from the scene of Ieyasu's son Hidetada serves to illustrate how just once there was a failure in Ieyasu's otherwise classic strategic vision. Yet Ieyasu possessed the particular wisdom of knowing who should be an ally and who was an enemy, and he was gifted in the broad brush strokes of a campaign. He also knew how to learn from his mistakes.
Ieyasu was also patient, a virtue sadly lacking in many of his contemporaries, and unlike Hideyoshi never outreached himself. To establish his family as the ruling clan in Japan for the next two and a half centuries was abundant proof of his true greatness.
giants moved away from each other, and Ieyasu was to avoid any involvement in Hideyoshi’s wars for the rest of the latter’s life. Ishida Mitsunari Ishida Mitsunari was one of Hideyoshi’s most accomplished generals who served with distinction at the siege of Oshi in 1590 and during the Korean invasion. He is of course best remembered for being the loser to Tokugawa Ieyasu at the decisive battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Ieyasu’s avoidance of service in Korea left him in a very strong position when
famous comment, ‘The sword is the soul of the warrior. If any forget or lose it he will not be excused,’ follows shortly after. In this middle section of a three-panel print Tokugawa Ieyasu sits surrounded by some of his most loyal generals. Honda Tadakatsu with his antler helmet sits at his lord’s right front. 60 Tokugawa Ieyasu is shown as the elder statesman of the Tokugawa family in this painted scroll in the Sekigahara Warland Museum. Ieyasu retired from the position of shogun in 1605 in
in one dramatic stroke in the year 1562, the same year that Motoyasu changed his name to the better-known Ieyasu. The Imagawa’s western outpost was a castle called Kaminojo, held for them by a certain Udono Nagamochi. It promised to be a useful prize for the Oda, and if Ieyasu was able to capture it on Nobunaga’s behalf any hostages taken from Kaminojo could be exchanged for Ieyasu’s own family. It would of course have to be done quickly before the news got out and Imagawa had a chance to murder
this ravine, where the Tokugawa troops fired on them and cut them down as they lay helpless. After the battle, according to legend, local people were troubled by the moans from the ghosts coming from this valley, so in 1574 Ieyasu established a temple at Saigadake called the Soen-do, where a monk called Soen prayed for the repose of the souls. In recent years, when the stream that runs through Saigadake was being culverted, bodies were found under the surface of the ground. All the signs now
Yamaguchi Prefecture, was one of the most decisive battles of Japanese history, where the sea flowed red from the blood of the slain and the dye from the flags of the vanquished Taira. The infant emperor Antoku, whose grandfather was a Taira, died during the battle, so it was the Minamoto imperial nominee who became the new emperor. The victorious Minamoto then took steps to ensure their family’s mastery of the governance of Japan and with it the total dominance of the samurai class over the