HISTORY

4th Battle of Kawanakajima

2013.05.10 [HISTORY,WHAT'S NEW]

4th Battle of Kawanakajima

October 1561 / Shinano (Nagano)

Takeda Shingen (20,000) 
VS 
Uesugi Kenshin (13,000)

 

Takeda Shingen and Ueasugi Kenshin had been at war a number
of times. Three times they had met on the plains of Kawanakajima,
the “Island Between the Rivers”. In October 1561, Uesugi Kenshin
once again drew the Takeda into battle by positioning themselves
on Mt. Saijo, overlooking and threatening the strategically important
Kaizu Castle. Unbeknown to the Uesugi was that at the time just
150 samurai manned the castle, and it could have been taken easily.

 

Signal fires alerted Shingen’s army some 130 Km away, and an army
of around 20,000 men soon accumulated on the plain below the
mountains. One of Shingen’s famed 24 Generals, Yamamaoto Kansuke
was a brilliant tactician. Despite being blind in one eye, lame in one leg
and with a deformed hand, he was one of the toughest, bravest and
most able warriors of his time.

 

 

Kansuke considered the situation and conceived the “Woodpecker
Strategy”. The vibrations caused by a woodpecker pecking at a
tree scares the insect out so the woodpecker can easily take and eat it. 
In this case, 8,000 Takeda troops would wait in ambush on Kawanakajima, while another contingent
would ascend the mountain undercover of darkness by a round about route, and peck at the Uesugi,
sending them down to the waiting Takeda forces.

 

 

Shingen accordingly made plans to set camp at Kawanakajima while Kosaka Masanobu and
Baba Nobufusa led 12,000 up Mt. Saijo.  Tipped off by spies, or having guessed the plan, Kenshin,
also undercover of darkness, moved his men down from Saijo and positioned themselves on the
plain where the Takeda were not expecting them for another few hours, and assaulted Shingen’s
force at dawn. The fighting was desperate, with Shingen’s brother Nobushige and great-uncle
Morozumi Masakiyo both killed.

 

 

Thinking his plan a failure, Yamamoto Kansuke fought on, and
taking responsibility for the perceived failure, led his men on an
exceptionally brave, suicidal attack. Badly wounded, he
committed suicide just as Kosaka and Baba finally arrived, driving
the Uesugi off.

 

This battle is recorded as having been especially close and bloody.  
An exciting episode during the battle occurred when Kenshin is
said to have suddenly entered Shingen’s curtain surrounded
headquarters on horseback and with sword drawn.
Shingen remained seated on his stool, and simply parried the
repeated sword blows with his war fan, before bodyguards chased
the attacker off. Later inspection of the war fan showed seven
cuts, while Kenshin managed only five blows.

 

 

KIA: (Takeda) Takeda Nobushige, Morozumi Torasada (Masakiyo), Yamamoto Kansuke, Hajikano Tadatsugu. (Uesugi) Shida Yoshitoki, Shoda Sadataka. Etc.  

 

 

 


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