Moderator: Daimyo

Battle of Aizu

Kurogami
Rice Farmer
Rice Farmer
Kurogami
Rice Farmer
Rice Farmer
Joined: November 13th, 2017, 10:37 pm

November 15th, 2017, 6:25 am #1

Any military strategists out there (Nate?) who can help fill in some information about the Aizu campaign at the end of the Boshin War?

The impetus for this research is I am writing a short historical fiction (seriously short, social fiction written for a phone app) set during that time. I don't need a ton of details; however I want to put characters in the right place at the right time, and also offer name references that help establish timeline and/or location. Finding the right detail lets me maximize information delivery using a minimal character count. If that makes sense?

I am particularly interested in the breach of Bonari Pass (母成峠の戦い), battle at Tonoguchihara ( 戸ノ口原の戦い) that ended with the Byakkotai suicides, and siege/surrender of Aizu/Tsurugao Castle (会津城籠城戦). Also, how far to the northeast Takamori Saigo Taichou (Satsuma) did manage to get? I think it was Hillsborough's book that described him preparing for the campaign but getting delayed in Kagoshima due to illness. Did Omura Masajiro Taichou (Choshuu) participate in the Aizu campaign? It would great to learn the composition of the pro-Imperial troops involved, han藩, ie家, or kuni国? Or I could figure it out from the names of commanders.

Totally awesome would be time markers for assaults/actions/events I could add to my reference timeline. For example--(dawn, 5/15, Keio 4/aka July 4, 1868), Battle of Ueno begins at Kuromon Gate, Kaneiji Temple, Takamori Saigo (Satsuma), Omura Masajiro (Choshuu), Iba Hachiro (Shogitai), (Shinsengumi).

Here's the Aizu timeline I have assembled thus far using Lunar calendar dates:
(time?, 4/25-5/1), Battle of Shirakawa 白河口の戦い
(evening, 4/25-5/1) Destruction of Komine Castle 小峰城
(time?, 7/29), Battle of Nihonmatsu Castle 二本松の戦い
(morning, 8/21) Battle of Bonari Pass 母成峠の戦い, Imperial forces break through
(8/23), Siege of Aizu Castle 会津城籠城戦 begins
(time?, 8/23), Imperial loyalist forces arrive in Wakamatsu, mass suicide by hanshi families
(time?, 8/23), Battle of Tonoguchihara 戸ノ口原の戦い / Tragedy of the Byakkotai
(time?, 8/26) Yamakura Okura unit returns to Aizu Castle
(time?, 8/28) Yonezawa han surrenders, Imperial reinforcements begin arriving
(time?, 9/14) Imperial troops begin all-out attack
(time?, 9/22), Surrender of Aizu Wakamatsu Castle

Would it be too much to ask for a map showing the roads from Edo to Aizu? I have discerned a couple possibilities for getting my characters, as well as pro-Imperial troops to Aizu:
1) Oshuu Kaido to Shirakawa, then a connector road (name?) to Aizu. Would they stay on the southwestern side of the Lake Inawashiro? Or go around the northeastern side? For example, both Nihonmatsu and Bonari Pass are located northeast of Lake Inawashiro.
....or....
2) Oshuu Kaido to Utsunomiya, then the Nikko Kaido to Imaichi Nikko, then the Aizu Nishi Kaido to Ouchi Juku, then for the last dozen or so kilometers to Aizu use a connector road (name?).

At any rate, I'm heading to the library to pick up "The Meiji restoration" by W.G. Beasley, among others, and hope to get some answers. I can muddle through a Japanese website that isn't too technically dense using translation tools, でも、日本語をあんまり読めません。お願いいたします!

P.S.--I just heard on the podcast, Nate mentioned Conlan's book, "Weapons & Fighting Techniques of the Samurai Warrior 1200-1877 AD." Anyone know if it includes information on the Aizu campaign?

Whew, that was long... :D
"You've never seen a person chop wood before?"
"Oh yes, but you seem to enjoy it so"
"Ah, that's just my nature. Sorry if it offends you."
Quote
Like
Share

ltdomer98
Izumi no kami
Izumi no kami
ltdomer98
Izumi no kami
Izumi no kami
Joined: March 8th, 2015, 5:42 pm

November 15th, 2017, 7:02 pm #2

Kurogami wrote:Any military strategists out there (Nate?) who can help fill in some information about the Aizu campaign at the end of the Boshin War?
Sorry, I haven't really studied it. To paraphrase a verbal comment by Michael Como at a recent conference, "anything after the [16th] century isn't history, it's journalism."
wrote:P.S.--I just heard on the podcast, Nate mentioned Conlan's book, "Weapons & Fighting Techniques of the Samurai Warrior 1200-1877 AD." Anyone know if it includes information on the Aizu campaign?
Probably not in the level of detail you're looking for, but I can check tonight when I get home.

Last edited by ltdomer98 on November 15th, 2017, 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Daijo Daijin Emeritus
退職させていただきます。
Quote
Like
Share

Kurogami
Rice Farmer
Rice Farmer
Kurogami
Rice Farmer
Rice Farmer
Joined: November 13th, 2017, 10:37 pm

November 15th, 2017, 9:50 pm #3

ltdomer98 wrote:
Kurogami wrote:Any military strategists out there (Nate?) who can help fill in some information about the Aizu campaign at the end of the Boshin War?
Sorry, I haven't really studied it. To paraphrase a verbal comment by Michael Como at a recent conference, "anything after the [16th] century isn't history, it's journalism."
Haha, there's a difference? I wasn't really interested in post-Tokugawa Japan either. Then I got this gig. The editors came to me and asked what I thought about the original outline, which was originally set in 1877/Satsuma Rebellion. Unfortunately it was sort of a mashup of postwar modern and pre-Meiji feudal references. I recommended the switch to the Boshin War, which would allow for the sort of samurai fiction people are used to seeing, i.e., fewer armstrong cannons and more katsujinken. I also noted the modern anachronisms--one that springs to mind is someone buying mochiko (rice flour). Huh? Oh, another was shopping for clothing "off the rack" so to speak. At any rate, they asked me if I would like to write the story and well, here I am...

From a storytelling perspective, war makes for fun fiction because you have more leeway to bend/break the rules. And the ongoing conflict in the background provides lots of dramatic opportunities, e.g., Seven Samurai.
ltdomer98 wrote:
wrote:P.S.--I just heard on the podcast, Nate mentioned Conlan's book, "Weapons & Fighting Techniques of the Samurai Warrior 1200-1877 AD." Anyone know if it includes information on the Aizu campaign?
Probably not in the level of detail you're looking for, but I can check tonight when I get home.
Thanks, I appreciate it!
Last edited by Kurogami on November 15th, 2017, 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"You've never seen a person chop wood before?"
"Oh yes, but you seem to enjoy it so"
"Ah, that's just my nature. Sorry if it offends you."
Quote
Like
Share

Toranosuke
Archer
Archer
Joined: March 5th, 2015, 4:09 am

November 21st, 2017, 5:04 am #4

wrote:another was shopping for clothing "off the rack" so to speak.
I don't know how widespread it was, but some of the most major stores in the major cities sold clothes off the rack, so to speak, as early as the end of the 17th century. I'm not sure when exactly they began implementing this practice, but the Echigo-ya (predecessor to Mitsukoshi department store) was established in Kyoto in 1673, and in Edo sometime later, and is known for doing things this way. Could have been fairly widespread by the 1860s...
Quote
Like
Share

Kurogami
Rice Farmer
Rice Farmer
Kurogami
Rice Farmer
Rice Farmer
Joined: November 13th, 2017, 10:37 pm

November 25th, 2017, 9:17 pm #5

Toranosuke wrote:
wrote:another was shopping for clothing "off the rack" so to speak.
I don't know how widespread it was, but some of the most major stores in the major cities sold clothes off the rack, so to speak, as early as the end of the 17th century. I'm not sure when exactly they began implementing this practice, but the Echigo-ya (predecessor to Mitsukoshi department store) was established in Kyoto in 1673, and in Edo sometime later, and is known for doing things this way. Could have been fairly widespread by the 1860s...
Ah! Good to know, thank you. I would imagine it would become quite popular in Edo by then.
"You've never seen a person chop wood before?"
"Oh yes, but you seem to enjoy it so"
"Ah, that's just my nature. Sorry if it offends you."
Quote
Like
Share

Wicked L
Ashigaru
Ashigaru
Wicked L
Ashigaru
Ashigaru
Joined: March 16th, 2015, 11:14 pm

December 4th, 2017, 9:35 pm #6

Yae No Sakura the 2013 Taiga, never thought id say this, because they are fiction based on real characters,but Yae actually covers the campaign against the Northern Clans in detail. You need to watch eps 23 through 30 . right here
https://dramacool9.com/yae-no-sakura-episode-23.html

List of books on Aizu 1868

Naval surgeon, The Diary Of Doctor Samuel Pellman Boyer ...

A Diplomat In Japan The Diaries of Ernerst Satow by Ian Ruxton .

The Making OF Modern Japan WG Beasley .

Here is a bit on Henry Schnell, The German Samurai, he was Matsudaira Katamori's military advisor, wore two swords, and sometimes a Haori with an Eagle on the back.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_and_Henry_Schnell

He is also in the book The Samurai Of Gold Hill.

Japan During the Boshin War By Ryan D Nelson (Thesis )

The Cambridge History Of Japan Vol 5

Remembering Aizu by Goro Shiba.

Doctor Willis In Japan, by Hugh Cortazzi.

A Guide To The Japanese Civil War The Boshin War Of 1868 by Charlotte Adelle

http://www.worldcat.org/title/lone-star ... ef_results

http://www.worldcat.org/title/meiji-186 ... ef_results

http://www.worldcat.org/title/aizu-bosh ... ef_results




Last edited by Wicked L on December 4th, 2017, 11:03 pm, edited 16 times in total.
Quote
Like
Share

Kurogami
Rice Farmer
Rice Farmer
Kurogami
Rice Farmer
Rice Farmer
Joined: November 13th, 2017, 10:37 pm

December 6th, 2017, 8:58 pm #7

wrote:Yae No Sakura the 2013 Taiga... List of books on Aizu 1868
I am buried past my eyeballs in a couple of freelance jobs, but I wanted to at least say a quick thank you to Wicked L for the list of sources! I found 2 more that have been very helpful, "Lost and Found" (book), Hiraku Shinoda, Aizu history in late 19th/early 20th centuries. Also "Female Combatants and Japan’s Meiji Restoration" (article), Diana E. Wright, lots of stats on Aizu war casualties and details of honest-to-goodness women warriors, including Niijima (Yamamoto) Yae, Nakano Takeko & the Joushitai (they of the mighty naginata), Yuki Jinbo and Chie Saigou (wife of Tanomo Saigou).

And yes, I have watched those episodes. I realize it's heavily dramatized, but it includes maps and dates that are very helpful for visualizing troop movement and filling in the timeline.
"You've never seen a person chop wood before?"
"Oh yes, but you seem to enjoy it so"
"Ah, that's just my nature. Sorry if it offends you."
Quote
Like
Share

Wicked L
Ashigaru
Ashigaru
Wicked L
Ashigaru
Ashigaru
Joined: March 16th, 2015, 11:14 pm

December 9th, 2017, 5:10 pm #8

Thanks Kuro, i am interested to see the short story. There are more books out there, one in particular, sadly cannot remember the name or author, except he was Ernest Satow's secretary (for some reason he does not appear in searches ), but he left a diary with a blow by blow account of the boshin war, from Toba/Fushimi to the end at Ezo .

Here is a blog with accounts of all the Shinsengumi members in Aizu .

https://tokio-fujita.livejournal.com/8798.html
Last edited by Wicked L on December 9th, 2017, 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

Kurogami
Rice Farmer
Rice Farmer
Kurogami
Rice Farmer
Rice Farmer
Joined: November 13th, 2017, 10:37 pm

June 1st, 2018, 7:36 pm #9

Kurogami wrote:The impetus for this research is I am writing a short historical fiction (seriously short, social fiction written for a phone app) set during that time.
At long last, :confused: my historical social fiction "Blood and Tears" is LIVE! [huge exhale] <:-P And just in time to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration.

As I mentioned way back when, the story begins in the middle of the Boshin War, a few weeks before the Battle of Ueno. The three characters, Yamashiro Usaburo 山城卯三郎 (son of an Aizu samurai 會津藩士), O-Hatsu お初 (daughter of a teahouse owner), and O-Bun お冨 (daughter of a wealthy merchant), meet on the road to Edo and soon become an ad-hoc family. The story unfolds in real time, with historical events, places, and people forming the backdrop.

I have included LOTS of visuals for this story. For example, I created maps showing the Tokaido Road post-stations visited by the characters. There's a map of the Battle of Ueno, which I believe is the only one in English with such detail. Another map shows the new government army's campaign against the Ooshuu Alliance 奥羽越列藩同盟. And of course, there are plenty of war banners and family/group crests.

This is a weekly series written for social media. A new episode launches every Monday morning.

There are a couple ways to follow the story: I have 21 episodes approved, which takes the story through mid-summer and prior to the Aizu War. I believe my being asked to write additional episodes, which would take the story into the invasion of Aizu and siege of Tsurugajo Castle, depends on how well the story is received. So... If you like a particular tweet (or several), please feel free to "Reply" "Comment" "Like" "Retweet" and "Share". :D I found some amazing maps of the castle town that I would love to use.

Lastly, feel free to post your questions, comments, corrections here and I will do my best to respond quickly. I still can't get the notifications function to work, so I will simply check back here regularly.

Teaser 1: Who can tell us the job duties of a yaba onna 矢場女 (archery range woman)? From Ep 2
Teaser 2: What is this facility? (Hint, it's in Aizuwakamatsu.) From Ep 16
Last edited by Kurogami on June 1st, 2018, 7:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"You've never seen a person chop wood before?"
"Oh yes, but you seem to enjoy it so"
"Ah, that's just my nature. Sorry if it offends you."
Quote
Like
Share