Battle of Anegawa
|Battle of Anegawa|
|Part of Sengoku period|
Blue: Azai (east) and Asakura (west). Red: Oda (east), Tokugawa (west), and Inaba (southeast)
|Commanders and leaders|
(23,000 Oda troops, plus 5,000 from Tokugawa Ieyasu)
The Sengoku period Battle of Anegawa (姉川の戦い, Anegawa no Tatakai) (30 July 1570) occurred near Lake Biwa in Ōmi Province, Japan, between the allied forces of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu, against the combined forces of the Azai and Asakura clans. It is notable as the first battle that involved the alliance between Nobunaga and Ieyasu, liberated the Oda clan from its unbalanced alliance with the Azai, and saw Nobunaga's prodigious use of firearms.
The battle came as a Azai and Asakura reaction to Oda Nobunaga's sieges of the castles of Odani and Yokoyama, which belonged to the Azai and Asakura clans. It was also referred to as the Battle of Nomura (野村合戦 Nomura Kassen) by the Oda and Azai clans and the Battle of Mitamura (三田村合戦 Mitamura Kassen) by the Asakura clan.
The Oda-Tokugawa allies marched on Odani castle, prompting Nagamasa to send for help from Echizen. Asakura Yoshikage sent an army to support him and the combined Azai-Asakura force marched out to confront Nobunaga in the field. Nobunaga reacted by placing a screen around an Asai fort he had been reducing from Yokoyama castle and advancing to the southern bank of the Anegawa.
The following morning on July 30, 1570 the battle began with the Oda and Asai clashing on the right while Tokugawa and Asakura grappled to the left. The battle turned into a melee fought in the middle of the shallow Ane River. For a time, Nobunaga's forces fought the Azai upstream, while the Tokugawa warriors fought the Asakura downstream.
Nobunaga was assigned Hashiba Hideyoshi to lead troops into open battle for the first time, with support from Hachisuka Masakatsu, Ikoma Ienaga, Yamauchi Kazutoyo, and Sassa Narimasa was led the rear guard. Ieyasu unleashed his second division under Honda Tadakatsu and Sakakibara Yasumasa on to Asakura's left flank, surrounding Asakura Kagetake.:62–63
A famous duel involved Makara Jurozaemon, and his eldest son Makara Jurosaburo (Naomoto), who both covered the retreat of the Asakura army to the northern bank. Both were eventually killed however when confronted by four Mikawa samurai, Kosaka Shikibu, Kosaka Gorojiro, Kosaka Rokurogoro, and Yamada Muneroku, and a fifth samurai named Aoki Jozaemon.:63–65 In another notable engagement, an Azai's samurai named Endo Kizaemon attempted to take Nobunaga's head, but was stopped short by Takenaka Kyusaku, younger brother of Takenaka Hanbei. Another Oda's samurai, Sakai Masahisa, was under attack from Azai forces under Isono Kazumasa, when he lost his son Sakai Kyūzō.
After the Tokugawa forces finished off Asakura, they turned around and attacked Azai's right flank. The troops of the Mino Triumvirate, who were under Inaba Ittetsu, were held in reserve, advancing to hit Azai's left flank, they even left the task of besieging Yokoyama castle to aid in the battle. Azai and Asakura's forces were immediately defeated.
No reliable source exists to reconstruct the battle. The Battle of Anegawa is vividly presented in the books compiled in the middle or the end of the Edo period. Many of the stories are pure fiction. The only valuable source is the Shinchōkō-ki, describing it very briefly without any notes concerning tactics or details of the battle. The exact number of the casualties in this battle is unknown. However, the Shinchōkō-ki mentions 1,100 samurai from Asakura clan being killed in battle. An army of this period had at least several times more ashigaru (commoner footmen) than samurai, so it would be reasonable to assume at least 9,000 men were killed.
According to A.L. Sadler in The Life of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu there were 3,170 heads collected by the Oda camp. A good portion were taken by Mikawa men, the Tokugawa force. The Mikawa Fudoki gives a very real picture of the battle: the retainers fighting in groups and the decapitation of soldiers in the confused mingling of armies among the clouds of smoke and dust.
It is often noted that Nobunaga used 500 arquebusiers in this battle. He was famous for his tactical use of firearms but would find himself on the opposite end of skilled arquebus tactics in his Siege of Ishiyama Hongan-ji that year.
In popular culture
The battle has been featured in all games of the Samurai Warriors series. However, because Azai Nagamasa was made playable in Samurai Warriors 2, as opposed to the first game where he was a unique non-playable character, the battle had a larger significance. The battle has also fictionally appeared in revamped form in the Warriors Orochi series, in particular Warriors Orochi 3 is where its most famous revamp takes place. It also a playable battle in the video game Kessen III. The battle is also featured in the game Nioh 2 as one of the pivotal events of the main story, which centers on the protagonist's role in the conquests of Oda Nobunaga and the Oda clan.
- The Battle of Anegawa on Samurai-archives.com
- De Lange, William. Samurai Battles: The Long Road to Unification. Toyp Press (2020) ISBN 978-949-2722-232
- Sadler, A.L. (1937). The Life of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Rutland: Charles E. Tuttle Co.