Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Key Points I


                                             Landmark at the Toyoake City Okehazama battlefield.

It is that time of year again when the Battle of Okehazama is the main topic.  I have expanded my key points to the battle over the years after reading several sources from the local perspective.


  • Nobunaga had a plan from the start.
  • He did not tell his captains/retainers about the plan since betrayal was common in the Sengoku Era.  He did not trust them at all.
  • He used the middle man on the outside such as the Men of the Fields to do his dirty work for him.  Nobunaga had more trust in them than his own retainers.
  • The weather was so hot and miserable it made the Imagawa stop and rest.  Also the thunderstorm provided cover for Nobunaga's army.  The storm prevented the Imagawa to do any scouting around the surrounding area.
  • The intelligence provided by Yanada Masatsuna was crucial in Nobunaga's victory.
  • The quality of the Imagawa army was poor compared to the Oda.  Nobunaga's army was toughen up by all the battle experience they received while unifying Owari.
  • Charisma.  Nobunaga's unorthodox character rubbed off to his soldiers when they needed it the most.
  • Yoshimoto never respected his enemy as a worthy opponent.  He always though Nobunaga was just a country samurai with no national pedigree.  That snobbish attitude cost him his life and the Imagawa house.
  • Kyoto.  Yoshimoto was so obsessed with the capital as his goal, he for who was the real enemy, Nobunaga.
  • Yoshimoto failed tactically.  His allied vanguard consisted of the Matsudaira and the Asahina did much of the bulk work.  However, Yoshimoto's main army failed due to attentiveness and overconfidence.
  • Plan.  Preparation.  Execution.  It was near flawless which Yoshimoto and the rest of the Imagawa army could not adjust nor recover.
I did write a similar blog post about four years ago.  It has changed somewhat.
http://otsuke.blogspot.com/2010/01/key-points.html

Tenka no tame!

7 comments:

Eleonora Nappi said...

"The quality of the Imagawa army was poor compared to the Oda."
I mean-- You're joking, right?
Try to ask Nobuhide!

What's the point of mortifying the Imagawa army? You just make it sound as if Nobunaga defeated a band of morons, when the Imagawa were a strenght to be reckoned with, in fact they were one of the most strong clans even because of Yoshimoto's rule.
Nobunaga's victory made such an impact exactly because he defeated such a strong opponent by himself.

Also, the idea of Nobunaga not trusting his retainers is naive. Considering that he was going to fight with such men on his side, of course trusted them as warriors.
Using peasants or the like for the intelligence was not something that only Nobunaga did. It was pretty common: commoners were happy to help because it meant protecting their lands and receiving money in return.

otsuke said...

As for Nobunaga not trusting his retainers, David D. Neilson's thesis Society at War explains this in great detail. He goes into great depth in the Men of the Fields and their role as well. The Men of the Fields were not peasants at all. They were samurai, merchants, arms dealers, and ect. People like Hachisuka Koroku and Maeno Shoemon were never involved in agriculture.

As for the poor quality of the Imagawa army. Local Okehazama historian explains this in great detail in his book Jimoto no koro ga wataru Okehazama Kassen Shimatsuki.

Eleonora Nappi said...

Oh, sorry for the late reply, somehow I forgot to activate the reply's notifications ^_^; !

I didn't read that book, so I can't answer precisely, but maybe I misunderstood what you meant..?
I can understand if he didn't trust some of the retainers that he got from his father's ranks as councillors, but the battlefield is another matter.
The Hattori brothers, Niwa Nigahide, the Ikoma, Sassa Narimasa, Ikeda Tsuneoki... Do you believe that he didn't trust these guys..?

Sorry for the misunderstanding, but my point is still valid: it's obvious to use locals when it comes to intelligence.
A retainer stationed in Kiyosu or Nagoya wouldn't know the people, terrains and locations as well as somewhere living there.
He didn't use Hachisuka and Maeno because he trusted them more than he trusted his vassals, he used them because they were better for the task.

I still don't agree on the quality of the Imagawa army.
Before the amush at Okehazama, didn't they wiped out two forts and repelled the first attack led by Sassa Hayato and Senshu Suetada..?
It did suffer of a poor strategy at the moment, but I wouldn't say that a bad strategy is the same as a poor army.

otsuke said...

You have to remember that Shibata Katsuie, Hayashi Hidesada, Oda Nobuhiro, Oda Nobuyuki rebelled against Nobunaga. Those people had their own retainers to look after too.

Another reason why Nobunaga trusted the Men of the Fields was through the Ikoma family. Kitsuno's (Nobunaga's concubine) came from the Ikoma family. Also Hideyoshi and Hachisuka Koroku were together often.

Matsudaira Motoyasu (Tokugawa Ieyasu) and Asahina Yasutomo did a lot of work for the Imagawa. Also Yoshimoto's military adviser Sessai passed away five years earlier. The situation would have been much different.

Eleonora Nappi said...

True! But at that point I don't think they would trouble him on the battlefield.
Remember the Imagawa was seen as a treat for whole Owari, so at least on this occasion I assume that collaboration was the only solution.

--But what is actually intended for "Men of the Fields"..?
The definition has a local acception only, or it has to do with military terminology too?
I hope that you'd write more about it!

Mh, yes, I agree when it came to strategy issues.
I was mostly referring to the army as warriors and men of valor.

otsuke said...

I plan to write a post on the role of the Men of the Fields at the Battle of Okehazama. Since Nobunaga had few or no elder retainers, he had more freedom to hire people on the outside. The relationship was not that of a daimyo-vassal. The Men of the Fields were rewarded differently.

Eleonora Nappi said...

I look forward to it!
It sounds extremely interesting!

Well, his "elder retainers" were those that he inherited from his father and that you mentioned before.
They still considered their lord immature at the time, but after Okehazama it looked like everyone learned their place!
More than "not trusting them" I think that Nobunaga wanted to show them their places: how he refused to hold a war council, and how he disregarded their suggestions during the battle hints more towards an "act of force" rather than paranoia on Nobunaga's part.