Samurai File 15 ; Ii Naomasa

2013.06.13 [HISTORY,WHAT'S NEW]

Ii Naomasa (March 4, 1560-March 24, 1602)

Ii Naomasa was born in Hoda Village, Totomi Province (Western Shizuoka Prefecture) in 1560.
Ii Naomasa was one of the Four Great Generals of the Tokugawa Clan, along with Honda Tadakatsu,
Sakai Tadatsugu and Sakakibara Yasumasa. Naomasa was first Lord of Hikone Castle, awarded
Sawayama and 180,00 koku in late 1600 following the great Battle of Sekigahara.


Following the Battle of Okehazama, in which the Ii clan’s master, Imagawa Yoshimoto was killed
by the troops of Oda Nobunaga, Naomasa’s father Ii Naochika was accused of treason by Yoshimoto’s
heir, Imagawa Ujizane and killed. His infant son was able to escape his father’s fate, later being taken
in and cared for by the Tokugawa clan.




In 1584, while fighting for the Tokugawa, Naomasa distinguished himself while in command of 3,000
riflemen at the Battle of Nagakute against the Ikeda clan.


In 1600 he and the majority of his samurai would take to the killing fields of Sekigahara in bright red
lacquered armour, a psychological tactic he adopted from the Takeda Shingen’s General Yamagata


On the morning of October 21, 1600, Ii Naomasa, along with his son in law, Tokugawa Ieyasu’s fourth
son Matsudaira Tadayoshi would ride ahead of the other forces gathered along the eastern front and
make the first attack, commencing hostilities at Sekigahara.



Fukushima Masanori had been awarded the honor of being first into battle, however it seems Naomasa 
thought that honor should go to a long term vassal, such as himself. Mounted with 30 other samurai, 
the party bypassed Fukushima’s troops, explaining his movements as a simple reconnaissance mission
before rushing at the massed troops of the Konishi units and starting the battle.


At the end of the battle, the 200 remaining Shimazu troops who had been on the Western side made
a daring escape directly through the middle of the eastern encampments. The plan almost worked,
except Ii Naomasa recognised the men as they slipped through the garrisons and set chase.
The Ii troops closed in on the fleeing Shimazu near Utouzaka, south east of the main battlefield, where
some of Shimazu’s gunners stopped, turned, and opened fire in unison on the pursuing samurai. It was a
shot from the musket of one Matsui Saburobee at a distance of less than 15 metres that badly wounded
Naomasa in the right arm.


Ii was carefully attended to and carried back to the main camp at Sekigahara, while the Shimazu
stragglers continued their retreat. Ieyasu is said to have personally shown concern for, and applied
bandages to his loyal general upon Naomasa’s return to the main camp. It is believed this wound
was the cause of his untimely death aged just 42 in Edo (Tokyo) in 1602.


Ii Naomasa’s armour and a number of personal belongings are now preserved and displayed in the
Hikone Castle museum.



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