Author: GuyWhoWrites PM
An alternate history in which Oda Nobunaga survives beyond 1582. History is accurate up until 1580, after which it's basically my playthrough of Shogun: Total War. I hope to have more up very soon. EnjoyRated: Fiction K - English - Words: 3,690 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Published: 08-11-10 - id: 6228784
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The Story of One of the Greatest Military Men in Japanese History
Nobunaga up to 1580
This is an alternate history in which Oda Nobunaga lived beyond 1582. History up until 1580 is completely accurate. After that, it's my playthrough of Shogun: Total War and then a re-imagining of Japanese history. Enjoy!
In 1551, nobody would have dreamed that Nobunaga, Daimyo of the Oda clan, would have been the most powerful man in Asia by the time of his death. He controlled just one small territory in the south of Japan, Owari, and fielded armies not of samurai, but of ashigaru. Ashigaru were the peasant soldiers of Japan, and made up the bulk of all Oda armies before Oda Nobuhide died.
However, when Nobuhide succumbed to illness in 1551, his son Nobunaga became Daimyo, even though he was only fifteen years old. Nobunaga's erratic behaviour as an adolescent had already earned him infamy and the nickname 'Fool of Owari'. Nobody in the Oda court thought that he would make a good Daimyo.
Nobunaga proved them wrong, however, in 1560, when he continued his father's war against the neighbouring, and infinitely more powerful, Imagawa Yoshimoto. This was a war that would catapult Nobunaga to real power, completely change Japanese politics of the time and provide Nobunaga with one of his most loyal and capable allies.
The War Against the Imagawa
This though, seemed a long way off when Nobunaga mustered 2,500 men to face Imagawa's 30,000. Death must have seemed certain to every Oda soldier on the field at Okehazama. Nobunaga, however, achieved a great victory, killing Yoshimoto and many of his soldiers.
Nobunaga's victory allowed Imagawa's remaining officers to fight among themselves. While this bitter in-fighting took place, Takeda Shingen, the lord of Kai and Shinano, and the most powerful lord in Japan at the time, took Yoshimoto's famous castle at Suruga. This further weakened the remnants of the Imagawa, save for Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had been in Mikawa at the time. Ieyasu finally defeated his fellow Imagawa retainers in 1569 and took the provinces of Mikawa and Totomi for his own. He also signed an alliance with Nobunaga that would allow Nobunaga to achieve some of his greatest victories.
The Anti-Nobunaga Coalition
After Okehazama, Nobunaga began to be treated with caution by the other Daimyo of Japan, particularly Asakura Yoshikage, the lord of Echizen, and Saito Tatsuoki, the lord of Mino. These two lords rallied other daimyo throughout Japan to form the 'Anti-Nobunaga Coalition'. This prompted Nobunaga to marry off his sister, Oichi, to Azai Nagamasa, the Daimyo of the Azai clan and a close ally of Yoshikage, hoping that Nagamasa would prevent Yoshikage from attacking Oda territory. Nobunaga misjudged Nagamasa, however. Nagamasa joined his forces with those of Yoshikage to face the combined forces of Nobunaga and Ieyasu Tokugawa at the Battle of Anegawa in 1570. The forces of the Oda and Tokugawa vastly outnumbered their enemy's armies, and the battle ended with a resounding victory for Nobunaga.
Nobunaga, however, did not press his advantage. Instead, he turned his attention towards a powerful sect of militant Buddhist monks. The Hongan-ji sect of militant Buddhist monks had caused problems for Nobunaga over the years, and now he would put an end to them. He besieged their fortress of Hongan-ji and assaulted their mountain settlement atop Mount Hiei, where he slaughtered 20,000 people, most of them civilians living in the small villages up and down the mountain. Nobunaga felt no qualms, however, as he put and end to the final greatest threat from within his own provinces. Though it would take ten years for Hongan-ji to fall, the monks there never harassed Nobunaga again.
Nobunaga could now turn his attention back to the Azai and the Asakura. Both Nagamasa and Yoshikage had escaped from Anegawa. Nobunaga had also faced Yoshikage once again in the summer of 1573, but had once again evaded death. Now, Nobunaga marched on Nagamasa's castle at Odani where, after a lengthy siege, the Azai finally surrendered. Left with no avenue of escape, Nagamasa and his son both committed seppuku (honourable suicide). Oichi and her daughters were entrusted to the care of Nobunaga. The following year, Nobunaga cornered Yoshikage at Ichijodani Castle. After defeat in battle, Yoshikage too committed suicide.
The Battle of Nagashino
With his most dangerous enemies eliminated, Nobunaga was now feared throughout Japan. He now ruled a large area of land in the centre of Japan, from Echizen in the north to Kii in the south. In thirteen years, he had gone from controlling one small territory to controlling the largest amount of land of any Daimyo in Japan. In 1575, he would cement is reputation still further by defeating his greatest rival, Takeda Shingen's son Katsuyori.
Shingen had started to march a large army towards Kyoto in 1573, and had even managed to defeat Ieyasu at the Battle of Mikatagahara. However, Shingen had died and his less tactically adept son had taken over command of the Takeda clan. He met Nobunaga and Ieyasu, who hungered for revenge, at Nagashino in 1575.
Katsuyori put his hopes for victory in his father's highly effective cavalry tactics. Shingen had won countless battles by having his elite cavalry charge the enemy, followed by his infantry. Katsuyori employed the same tactic at Nagashino. Nobunaga, however, was prepared for the cavalry charge. He erected wooden stockades, behind which he positioned thousands of men armed with Portuguese muskets. Using a tactic that would not be used in Europe for several decades, Nobunaga ordered his gunners to cycle rounds. That is to say, while one man fired, the man next to him reloaded. This way continuous fire was achieved. The tactic was devastating and Katsuyori's men fell in their thousands, Katsuyori among them. By the day's end, the Takeda had lost 10,000 men, 54 of them important officers. Nobunaga's losses too were heavy. 6000 Oda-Tokugawa men were killed at Nagashino. Regardless, this battle resulted in Nobunaga taking control of Kai and Shinano and Ieyasu took Suruga, finally unifying Yoshimoto Imagawa's old territories.
Demon King vs. God of War
Now, with the Takeda ground beneath him, the 'Fool of Owari' was a distant memory. In his place was the 'Demon King', a man both renowned and feared for his brutality and military efficiency. Nobunaga now looked for a new challenge, and found one in Takeda Shingen's old rival, Uesugi Kenshin.
Kenshin was as renowned a tactician and warrior as Nobunaga was, perhaps more so. Some even went as far as to claim he was the embodiment of Bishamonten, the god of war. Nobunaga sought to test this. In 1577, he marched to meet Kenshin at Tedorigawa. The battle proved to be too much for Nobunaga, however, who suffered his first defeat for many years at Kenshin's hands that day.
Nobunaga had finally been bested, but his greatest enemy died before he had a chance to fight Nobunaga again. In 1578, Kenshin died. Nobunaga remarked 'Now Japan is mine'. Nobunaga then spent the next two years solidifying his control over his vast territory.
Campaigns Against the Takeda and the Uesugi
In summer of 1580, Nobunaga sought to put an end to the final remnants of the Takeda. Leading a large force of 50,000 men, he assaulted Oyamada Nobushige's castle at Temmokuzan, defeating the last great retainer of the Takeda, save for Sanada Masayuki, who had allied himself with Ieyasu and ruled a small area of Shinano for Nobunaga.
Still, however, the Takeda refused to simply disappear from Japan. Takeda Morinobu, the obscure fifth son of Takeda Shingen holed himself up in Takato Castle in the province of Izu. Nobunaga, tired of spilling Takeda blood, attempted to negotiate with Morinobu. To this end, he sent a Jesuit priest to the castle, but Morinobu sent the man's head back in a bag. Enraged that Morinobu had killed a priest, Nobunaga assaulted the castle, razing it to the ground and forcing Morinobu to commit seppuku.
Finally, the Takeda had been utterly annihilated. Nobunaga now turned his attention to taking revenge for Tedorigawa. In the spring of 1581, he led his battle-hardened army through the province of Shinano and invaded the Uesugi province of Echigo. He faced Uesugi Kenshin's son, Kagekatsu, in two battles, the first at Kawanakajima, where Kenshin and Shingen had fought each other five times.
The Battle of Kawanakajima
Nobunaga placed his forces near Zenkouji, hugging the battlefield's east side with his naginata samurai and preventing Kagekatsu from springing an ambush from Mount Hyjal. Nobunaga placed his gunners on a hill and protected them by placing ashigaru armed with 7ft Yari pikes and samurai armed with No-Dachi swords at the base of the hill, facing Kagekatsu's force. Nobunaga then deployed Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who led Nobunaga's light cavalry, to the forefront of his army, hoping to use Shingen's tactic of a cavalry charge to great effect on the flat plain of Kawanakajima.
Kagekatsu, who had seen Nobunaga defeated by his father at Tedorigawa, underestimated his enemy and relied on an all-out charge to finish Nobunaga. This tactic played right into Nobunaga's hands, as Hideyoshi's cavalry scattered the first charge. The retreating Uesugi soldiers caused confusion and panic in the ranks of their fellows, who were left unprepared for Hideyoshi's charge.
Kagekatsu's left flank was swept aside by the Oda cavalry, who were armed with swords capable of destroying samurai armour. However, the Uesugi centre held off Hideyoshi's cavalry, whose losses began to mount. Nobunaga, realising that if his cavalry retreated, or if he lost Hideyoshi, then all would be lost. Therefore, he ordered his naginata samurai to attack the Uesugi right flank. The Uesugi forces buckled under the Oda pincer attack, and the Oda cavalry rode down their retreating foes. The Oda army took over 4000 heads that day, but Kagekatsu's was not among them.
The Battle of Kaga
After fleeing Kawanakajima, Kagekatsu had hastily recruited a new army, mostly made up of men from his territories in Mutsu and Dewa, and was ready to face Nobunaga again within a year. Nobunaga, who was hell-bent upon destroying the Uesugi by now, cornered Kagekatsu at Kaga. Here, the fate of Japan was sealed.
Nobunaga, having managed to train battlefield ninjas since his last encounter with Kagekatsu, put these elite ambush troops in the woods to the right of his position. He then placed his naginata samurai to the very forefront of his position. Nobunaga's hope was that Kagekatsu would want revenge on these men for the role they had played in his defeat at Kawanakajima. Behind them, Nobunaga placed archers, who could fire over the heads of their comrades. Gunners could not, and so either needed to be placed on a hill or left unprotected, or they would kill their own men.
Nobunaga had Hideyoshi and his cavalry ride to the top of a nearby hill and shout insults and threats down at the Uesugi camp. The purpose of this was twofold. It would goad the Uesugi men to attack rashly and the cavalry would gain huge amounts of momentum while charging down the hill, all of which could then be brought to bear against the Uesugi soldiers.
Kagekatsu expected Nobunaga to use guns, and so abandoned the tactic of a cavalry charge, which he had seen fail disastrously for the Takeda at Nagashino. Instead, he placed his archers at the front of his lines with spearmen behind them. Kagekatsu also had in his ranks warrior Buddhist monks who desired revenge on Nobunaga for the fall of Hongan-ji and the massacre at Mount Hiei.
When the battle began, the day was clear, providing excellent visibility for both sides. Nobunaga's archers fired immediately on Kagekatsu's monks, who wore little armour and were killed easily. Nobunaga then ordered the ninjas, led by Harumoto Harikawa, to sneak to the back of the Uesugi ranks, where Kagekatsu himself rode.
The Uesugi archers fired at the Oda naginatas. However, Nobunaga had bought new armour for his men, which rendered arrows almost obsolete, and the Uesugi arrows were wasted. The archers of both sides loosed volley after volley until both had run out of arrows. On both sides, men lay dead. It was now that Nobunaga launched his surprise. He signalled the ninjas to attack, and they rushed at Kagekatsu and his bodyguards from behind. Their resistance was short-lived as the Oda ninjas first used their shuriken to attack them from range, then used their short swords to finish the survivors, dragging them from their horses and slitting their throats. Kagekatsu himself was killed in the attack, and news of his death spread quickly through the Uesugi ranks.
Using the terror of the Uesugi, Nobunaga ordered his cavalry to charge. The Uesugi soldiers broke in the face of the onslaught and fled the field. Hideyoshi and his cavalry ran them down and killed them in their thousands. For the second time in a year, Uesugi troops had fallen in their thousands.
It was a defeat that the Uesugi would not recover from. The surviving Uesugi retainers fought amongst themselves and were picked off one-by-one by Nobunaga, either by hiring them into his service or by defeating them in battle.
With the east of Japan firmly under Nobunaga's control, save for the lands of his allies, the Tokugawa and the Hojo, Nobunaga turned his forces westward to attack the Mori clan. The Mori had been recruiting heavily while Nobunaga had been in the east and would prove to be a difficult obstacle to overcome. Nevertheless, in the autumn of 1583, Nobunaga and his army boarded a ships and sailed to the Oda province of Wakasa, which bordered several Mori provinces. Nobunaga and his army spent the winter in Wakasa before invading Tamba province in the spring of 1584.
Tamba fell without a fight, as the small Mori garrison there fled the region. Nobunaga swiftly built a castle in the region and left 200 ashigaru to guard the province before invading Harima province, where a large Mori army had gathered to try and stop Nobunaga.
The First Battle of Harima
Nobunaga, not wanting to put his faith in Hideyoshi's elite but severely weakened cavalry, put these men in reserve behind his main battle line. He placed both archers and gunners on a hill overlooking the battlefield while his samurai and ashigaru protected them from the base of the hill. Nobunaga's plan was to allow the Mori forces to wear themselves out against him before counter-attacking.
However, not everything went according to Nobunaga's plan. The Mori had many gunners of their own and these men attacked Nobunaga's infantry, making them easier targets for the main Mori force, which consisted mostly of warrior Buddhist monks. These men were elite warriors and they tore through Nobunaga's remaining defences. Nobunaga was forced to call a hasty retreat to try and save his missile infantry and cavalry. The battle of Harima was an unmitiagted disaster for the Oda army.
The Second Battle of Harima
Knowing that he needed fresh troops to attack Harima again, Nobunaga withdrew to the province of Kamashiro, in which lay the city of Kyoto, where he was able to recruit monks of his own to combat those of the Mori clan. He also built armouries and smithies to give his men weapons and armour of legendary quality. He also bribed Mori armies in the territories around Harima to defect to his side, and so conquered more and more territory as he built up his forces to launch a do-or-die attack on Harima.
Finally, in summer of 1586, Nobunaga was ready to attempt a second attack on Harima. Leading his men from the front, he placed Hideyoshi's reinforced cavalry at the very fore of his army, so that they had less distance to cover before hitting the Mori lines. Behind them, he placed his warrior monks so that they could charge in to support the cavalry after the first charge. On the hill, he placed his archers and gunners.
The Mori, having sent troops to deal with the men who had defected to Nobunaga, had a depleted force, and had fewer monks than they had during the first battle. Nevertheless, Nobunaga did not underestimate them. He split his cavalry down the middle and attacked from two sides, while sending his own monks to attack the centre. The plan worked and the Mori's elite troops were soon sent running back.
But now Nobunaga faced the Mori guns, who began to tear through the Oda cavalry. The Oda monks, still reforming after the attack, took a long time to preapre themselves before they could attack. However, they were not wiped out by the guns and so charged their enemies, fighting their way to the Mori general and taking his head. The second battle of Harima was a resounding victory for Nobunaga.
The Final Push
However, Nobunaga's domination of the Mori territories was short-lived. The people living in the regions that he had accquired from bribing Mori officers into joining him did not take kindly to being occupied, particularly the Ikko-Ikki monks who lived there. Constantly they rebelled and eventually they drove the Oda forces from their lands. Despite the new threat, Nobunaga was in no position to attack. After fighting two very costly battles against the Mori, his army was severely depleted. Without reinforcements, they had no way of fighting a long campaign.
Nobunaga, however, came up with a plan. He ordered a port to be built in Harima as a means of bringing in troops from other coastal provinces. Within a year, another three armies had gathered in Harima and Nobunaga was ready to launch a final campaign against the Mori. So, in 1587, Nobunaga launched a three-pronged attackon the Mori. The Mori resistance crumbled before the onslaught and within two seasons, the Mori clan ceased to exist.
Kyushu and Shikoku
Now only two clans stood in Nobunaga's way; the Chosokabe in Shikoku and the Shimazu in Kyushu. Ieyasu was locked in a costly war with the Shimazu, so Nobunaga decided to take advantage of the Shimazu's distraction and invaded Kyushu in the autumn of 1588. He took around half of the island before the end of the year without firing a single arrow, as all of the Shimazu armies were concentrated in the north of Kyushu fighting the Tokugawa.
In the winter of 1589, Nobunaga invaded Satsuma province, the capital of the Shimazu territory. The Shimazu recalled many of their troops from the north in order to defend the province against Nobunaga and finally faced the Oda in open battle. At the start of the battle, Nobunaga ordered a kensai (sword saint) to charge the Shimazu lines. The kensai, who had armour and a sword of legendary quality, cut down hundreds of Shimazu troops single-handedly. However, he was eventually cut down by Shimazu archers. The kensai had opened the way for the main Oda army, however, who rushed towards the Shimazu army as one and slaughtered all in their way, including the Shimazu daimyo, Yoshihiro. Satsuma now belonged to Nobunaga.
Marching up the western coast of Kyushu virtually unchallenged, Nobunaga was finally met by the final Shimazu army, led by Iehisa Shimazu, in the province of Hizen. Here, Nobunaga met the Tokugawa forces who were led by Honda Tadakatsu. In the final battle against the Shimazu, the Tokugawa cavalry, led by Tadakatasu broke the Shimazu ranks, follwed by the Oda infantry. The combined forces easily crushed the Shimazu soldiers. And so, in the winter of 1592, the Shimazu clan ceased to exist.
Despite his controlling most of Japan by this stage, Nobunaga still faced some opposition. The Chosokabe clan, based on the islands of Shikoku and Awaji, still defied Nobunaga and refused to accept his rule. Nobunaga, desiring nothing more than to crush his final opponents invaded Shikoku in the summer of 1593, helped by a turncoat Chosokabe officer who had defected to Nobunaga. The Chosokabe, who had no real army to speak of, were soon defeated by the Demon King and within a year, were utterly defeated.
War with Korea
Now that Japan was finally unified under a single Daimyo, the Hojo and Tokugawa clans having sworn fealty to Nobunaga, the long civil war was at last at an end. However, Nobunaga did not wish for an end to war, and sought to increase Japan's influence throughout the world. His sights turned to the nation of Korea, which at the time was suffering invasions from the north by the Manchu people. Nobunaga sensed that Korea's problems would make an invasion of the country easier and be a stepping stone to a Japanese Empire in Asia.
In the spring of 1595, Nobunaga sent several ships loaded with samurai to the Korean south coast, where they quickly overran the coastal city of Pusan. News of this first attack alarmed the Korean court, who could not muster a large enough army to attack the Japanese and win. To counter this disadvantage, Korean Prime Minister Yu-Song-Yon proposed the strategy of defending fortresses to the last man, a tactic which proved effective against the Japanese samurai until Nobunaga's troops broke the Korean line at the Battle of Choryong.
Swiftly, Nobunaga and his armies marched north through Korea, taking city after city. Within five months, they had reached the capital city of Seoul, which had been left abandoned by the army, populace and royal court. From Seoul, the Japanese marched almost to Korea's border with Ming China, finally stopping just south of the city of Uiju. Here, Nobunaga face dhis first defeat in more than a decade when thousands of Chinese troops reinforced the minimal Korean garrison.