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Battle of Aizu; Looking for help with the Aizu campaign at the end of the Boshin War
Topic Started: Nov 14 2017, 08:25 PM (508 Views)
Kurogami
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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
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ltdomer98
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Kurogami
Nov 14 2017, 08:25 PM
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."

Quote:
 
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.

Edited by ltdomer98, Nov 15 2017, 09:03 AM.
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Kurogami
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ltdomer98
Nov 15 2017, 09:02 AM
Kurogami
Nov 14 2017, 08:25 PM
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
Nov 15 2017, 09:02 AM
Quote:
 
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! Posted Image
Edited by Kurogami, Nov 15 2017, 12:05 PM.
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Toranosuke
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Quote:
 
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...
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Kurogami
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Toranosuke
Nov 20 2017, 07:04 PM
Quote:
 
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.
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Wicked L
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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-of-the-north-the-northern-alliance-reconsidered/oclc/775370399&referer=brief_results

http://www.worldcat.org/title/meiji-1868-revolution-and-counter-revolution-in-japan/oclc/855922231&referer=brief_results

http://www.worldcat.org/title/aizu-boshin-senso/oclc/663355202&referer=brief_results




Edited by Wicked L, Dec 4 2017, 01:03 PM.
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Kurogami
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Quote:
 
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.
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Wicked L
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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
Edited by Wicked L, Dec 9 2017, 07:15 AM.
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