This was the second and last battle in our Piquet - Theatre of War campaign titled 1548: A Spanish invasion of Japan. The game was noted for the numerous uncontrolled charges by the Japanese - even the levy archers made fanatic charges! In the end, Spanish might crushed the Samurai at Kobe and won the campaign for Japan.
Prologue: Zen and the Student
Taicho Nikayama: O' learned master, The "Cherry Blossom" records the fall of Okayama in 1548. What happened to the Gaijin after their victory in the Holy Land?
Nishito Oyasewa: (after a pause) Taicho-San, it saddens me to recall what happened after Okayama; and it is even more sadder a tale why the account of what happened later did not appear in the "Cherry Blossom".
Taicho Nikayama: Your words fill me with curiosity, O master. "History must be read and its lessons understood" say the Zen masters; Pray narrate the tale however sad it is.
Nishito Oyasewa: Indeed, young one. Sad as the tale of Nippon is, it is worth recounting. Listen with patience, and learn...
Nobuko Obuchi meets the Emperor
The Emperor's reputation had suffered a mighty blow in the aftermath of the fall of Okayama. While what happened prior to the battle had not been under his control, the tactics adopted by the Okayama clan in the battle were attributed to the Emperor by many. All of his friends wanted him to win in the field and elsewhere; but after Okayama they privately counseled him that shoddy tactics as those displayed in Okayama were not going to lead him to victory.
There were other reasons for him to worry than the lose of face. Those who lost their kith and kin at Okayama demanded that the Emperor pay for their loses. To enforce it, the Royal court met and passed a law which held that the Supreme Commander of any Army would be billed for the loses in every battle fought. Despite his status, the Emperor was hard pressed for money and the money rule (Read note) went a long way in forcing him to try and improve his battlefield tactics.
It was under these circumstances that Nobuko Obuchi, the Ikko Ikki monk, met the Emperor in Kobe. He had come with a message.
The exact details of what transpired between the Emperor and the monk on that warm summer evening of 1548 is unknown. According to what the Emperor later told his friends, Obuchi had delivered an ultimatum. Allow his clan to command and fight for Nippon or be prepared to meet the consequences. His Highness was aghast. The last thing he wanted in any battle field was to have the Ikko Ikki levy present, wrecking havoc with plans. But he knew that Obuchi could not be ignored. To gain time, he suggested that they meet and discuss the issue. Obuchi reluctantly concurred. Thus it was agreed upon that on the morrow the Emperor would visit the Shrine of the Woods in Kobe, and meet the Ikko Ikki monks.
He who pays the Guitarra man
The Gaijin commander, that wily Mohan y Cardoza, was one of the few outside the Royal Palace who got wind of the proposed confidential meeting between The Emperor and the Ikko Ikki. As one of the Gaijin scribes have recorded, 'Senor Cardoza was smiling as he explained to the commanders his reason for choosing to attack without waiting for reinforcements. Apparently, the scouts and spies had brought news that the Emperor was in Kobe with a tired army. Where he procures such intelligence is unknown to me; I would credit one of those skilled Genitor Chiefs who tag Cardoza. '
The General's reasoning was simple. If the the tired army could be beat, and the Emperor captured or killed, it would end our campaign in the shortest time. The people of Kobe were a superstitious lot - if the Shrine of the Woods - the Ikko Ikki sanctum sanctorum - could be captured, the morale of the people would go down significantly. To this end, Cardoza had his troops shoulder their arms and march at the double to the vicinity of the Shrine. He would not let man or animal stop until they had reached and camped behind the cover of some hills near the shrine. If the tired soldiers found rest that night, none of their officers did so. In a meeting that went on late into the night, Cardoza handed out detailed instructions to everyone.
Nishito Oyasewa paused. After a moment's thought, he spoke again.
"Taicho-San, one must however respect the Gaijin for his qualities. Even on that long night, Cardoza did not go to bed until he had finished his daily rote of playing the strange musical instrument they call the Guitarra. This is one thing you should keep in mind yourself - persistence makes a successful man."
Even on that long night, Cardoza did not go to bed until he had finished his daily rote of playing the strange musical instrument they call the Guitarra. This is one thing you should keep in mind yourself - persistence makes a successful man.
The Spanish chose to deploy the most deadly of their formations - the Tercios - in the open ground between the base hill and the settlement. To aid these monstrosities, the Gaijin deployed a thick skirmish screen and some close range artillery. Some of those skilled cavaliers, the Genitors were deployed as a flank guard. The Tercios were under the command of Senor Captains Remiralda and Gonsalvez. These two had been chosen for their ability to think clearly and bulldog like tenacity when involved in a melee.
In the Spanish centre was arrayed the flower of Spanish society - The Knights - with some of their 'lesser brethren', Elmeti from Italy. The Mounted Arquebusiers those "men with long arms" formed up the first rank, Genitors on either side. A lone unit of mounted crossbow men went ahead. They never quite did fight in the way the heavier horse did.
The Spanish right was heavily manned. Most of the elite Spanish Arquebusiers stood in column on either side of the stream, ready to advance at short notice. Crossbow armed skirmishers spread out to give cover while the Sword and Buckler 'adventurosos' lined up to lead the advance. All their heavy artillery and some light artillery was also deployed there. Cardoza knew very well the importance of capturing the woods quickly before the Emperor could attempt an escape.
On the other side of the battlefield, the Japanese army was caught by surprise when the first Spaniards appeared out of nowhere and deployed. And the Emperor was nowhere to be seen! Fortunately for the Japanese, Shogun Manojama was present in the barracks, having arrived the night before to meet the Emperor. A courier dashed from the frontlines to his tent, and conveyed the message in haste. "Beg pardon, Lord Manojama! " "But the Gaijin have massed in the hills, and they are preparing for an attack!"
Manojama was shocked. He knew what it would mean for the Nippon if the Samurai army were to be defeated here. "By Buddha!" swore the General "Has the emperor been informed?" The messenger shook his head. "His Highness is missing, my Lord" Manojama was taken aback by this news. "Amida! Where was the Emperor?" He was about to order a search, but then decided against it. As a loyal servant of the Emperor he was bound to help him in time of peril, which meant that he should lead a charge to relieve the Shrine of the Woods. But as a General of the Realm, responsible for leading the army and the defence of the land, he should rather concentrate on defeating the Spaniards in a battle.
Two factors helped Manojama make his decision - the first , that the Japanese lacked skirmish and lightly armed troops to contest the dense terrain of the Shrine of the Woods; the Second, he thirsted to avenge the fallen at Okayama. "Assemble the Captains!", ordered the General, "we are going into battle!."
The battle of Okayama had taught the General to expect the Spanish Tercios(Te-su-ho, as the ignorant called it) in the centre of the battlefield. Accordingly, without waiting for Spaniards to deploy, Manojama ordered the Samurai Horse to deploy. The heavy horse went into the Japanese right flank. Unlike last time however, Manojama was not going to lead his men into battle without a skirmish screen having had by now developed a solid respect for the Spanish muskets. But the General was at a loss for a choice of skirmishers - he had very few. Looking around, he finally made the reluctant but inevitable choice - the levy archers would have to do. He gave orders, and offered a mental prayer to the Kami to keep their morale up. A sudden wind blew, Manojama's face cleared - the Kami seemed to have answered his prayers. "Fear not, my men, for the Kami fights with us!"
However the Noble Mounted Samurai were not happy with the decision. Even with the army in such a hurry, theyfound time to form and send an embassy to the CinC, demanding that the levy be removed from their front. Manojama decided not to play into the game of power and petty politics which the Samurai lords sought. He refused to grant an audience to the embassy, and sent them to his friend and subordinate Tanzan Nimoku instead. Tanzan had a cooler head and a way with words; He would figure out a way.
While Nimoku occupied himself with the Samurai Lords, Manojama set about arranging the rest of the army. Supervising the deployment of the foot Spearmen, he reflected that the Spanish could not have attacked at a more worse time. Many of the men were reluctant to fight, many through wounds received in Okayama. Some had just failed to muster their courage; one captain had told the General that the 'cries of the the fallen' still echoed in his ears. The Artillery therefore was split and sent to the forefront of the Japanese lines. One half, flanked by the foot Spearmen, occupied the hill near the Japanese camp, while the other half supported by Ronin mercenaries and some native gunmen took defensive positions in the woods near the base of the hill.
Some of his concerns were brushed aside by the mercanaries, the Ronin. "My Lord, my men are prepared to fight unto Death. Those cowardly Gaijin are going to regret this battle!" Still skeptic, but hopeful, the CinC nodded, and focused his attention elsewhere. Still fearing for his left flank, Manojama recalled some of the Japanese Horse, and sent them to the left side of the hill. Native gunmen accompanied them, but it was evident even to the casual observer that the gunmen were tense and reluctant to fight.
They dare not lead *you* to battle, but stand ready to fight for Nippon assured that the valorous are watching over them! They dare not deprive you of your honour, but will pave the path for their betters to tread!
Tanzan Nimoku was engaged in one of the most bitter discussions of his entire life. The Samurai Lords were wearing his patience thin. "Tanzan San", they cried, "Just *look* at those peasants! They are hardly fit to ply the plough, and the Emperor has trusted them with a Bow!" Another Samurai Lord nodded in agreement "We stand shocked, Tanzan San. Will these half naked lead *us* to the battle?!!!"
Tanzan Nimoku wanted to shout that they were fools and chop them down, but he restrained himself with great effort. "My Lords, I understand your concern. But doth not the Code of the Warrior, the Bushido, require that you should protect your serfs?" "Of Noble Birth these arechers are not; but they certainly are the sons of this very soil. And if not the mighty Samurai, than who in this Realm will protect them?" Pausing, Nimoku looked around and saw that he had their attention. Summoning all his speaking skills, he continued. "They dare not lead *you* to battle, but stand ready to fight for Nippon assured that the valorous are watching over them! They dare not deprive you of your honour, but to pave the path for their betters to tread!".
After several minutes of this, the Samurai were assured of their Positions. They emerged happy from Tanzan Nimoku's tent. After them came out the weary General himself, shaking his head. The Samurai Lords were content with the battle plan for now, but Nimoku suspected for how long the new found peace would last.
The Spaniards Advance
The superior training of the Spaniards was benefiting them again. While half the Japanese army was still arguing about precedence in deployment, the Spanish surged forward in an orderly fashion. Remiralda and Gonsalvez lead the Tercios as fast as they could, Remiralda signaling the Genitors to go ahead to cover the approach. In a short while, the Genitors and Tercios had made it halfway across to the Japanese. in the Spanish centre, the Knights too started moving. Armour clanked against bard; the heavies were on the move. Such was the spirit of the men that even the civilians tending to the guns pushed and pulled at their weapons, sometimes even threatening to overtake the Knights. Cardoza watched his army march with satisfaction. Everything was going according to his plan.
When Tanzan Nimoku reached the frontline, he found that the Samurai were keeping their places. He chuckled to himself. All those skills learnt wooing the ladies at the Royal Courts had come of use in a different fashion. He started giving orders to the archers, who seemed less reluctant than usual. With surprise, Nimoku watched as they marched at the double and took up position exactly where he wanted them to. Something in his mind twitched at this behaviour of the levy. Nimoku forced it out of his mind and tried to concentrate on the tasks ahead.
Remiralda was giving orders to all the units in the flank now, trying to bring as wide a front to bear on the Japanese as he could. The Tercios were in good position, and the Genitors were covering their flanks nicely. Suddenly, their was a shout from the Japanese ranks. The sound grew in volume as it was was taken up by all the leavy archers standing in the front. And suddenly, the Levy charged!
The Kami had apparently taken the prayers of Manojama to give courage to his levy very seriously.
From where he stood, Nimoku had a better view of what happened. In his many years as an Imperial Japanese Army commander, he had never seen a body of levy archers willing to advance to the front, let alone charge a waiting Tercio. "You stupid fools! Stop there!" To his horror, the enthusiasm spread like wildfire through the ranks of the levy, and soon, a good two thirds of them were running full tilt towards the enemy. And the Samurai Lords were beaming, congragulating themselves on the morale boost their noble presence had imparted to the Levy!
An astounded Nimoku raced to the nearest skirmish group, and could only prevent the unit from pursuit by beheading the leader with his Katana. "The next man to take a step forward will join him", yelled Nimoku, his mild manner forgotten.
The men of the Tercio and their leader were equally astonished. The levy archers were closing rapidly, yelling at the top of their voice. The Spanish readied their pikes, and waited for the impact....
.....which never came. The Arquebusiers forming the Tercio merely raised their guns, and fired without even taking proper aim. The fire felled most of the attackers; when the smoke cleared only a few of the skirmishers were left standing, their enthusiasm having given way to shock. The survivors ran for their lives.
If Nimoku thought that the worst part was past, he was very mistaken.
Death before Dishonour!
The Spanish advance ground to a halt following the Levy's charge. Cardoza could not blame the Captains, for never even in his considerable experience had he seen such an event. Joseph Augusto, commanding the Spanish right was the first to react. He had his men beat the drums, and blow their pipes, while the Standard bearers advanced prompting others to do so. The sword wielding adventurosos lead the way, while the organ gun contractors crossed the stream and readied their gun to fire. Some of the Arquebusiers marched right to the edge of the Shrine Woods in column, and quickly broke ranks to enter the trees. "Where was the Emperor?"
Manojama was straining to catch sight of the events from atop the hill. He had his personal courier gallop to Nimoku, asking him to reign in the Samurai before they too joined the levy.
As it turned out, the courier needn't have been sent. Nimoku's first order upon recovering was to the Mounted Lords "HOLD!!". Not satisfied, he rode to each of the clan leaders in turn, conveying his complements first and orders later. In each case he received grunted answers in the affirmative. Sighing with relief, Nimoku turned away. There was only one clan left, and that was the Misekis of Kobe, who were less fanatic than their brethren from elsewhere. He looked about for the clan leader: "Where is Shinoto Miseki?"
Shinoto Miseki was not far away. He was calling for a drink from his page when the levy charged, and was even now taking stock of what had happened. The more he saw, the more angry he became. Unlike the other Samurai, to Shinoto the levy *were* his fief - those whom he was deigned to protect. And the way they had been so dishonourably cut down by the Gaijin's unholy weapons cut to his very core. Bushido! The Way of the Warrior! Shinoto Miseki drew his Katana, and spurred his horse. "Death to the Gaijin!"
Nimoku almost had a heart attack when he finally found Shinoto Miseki - charging headlong across the field, aiming right at the Tercio. His head throbbed and he had difficulty focusing his eyes. It was happening again. Incensed by the lose of face caused by their reluctance to charge earlier, the other Samurai nearby emulated the Miseki clan, each wanting to outperform the other in this deadly show of bravery and duty.
Remiralda and Gonsalvez were putting the troops in proper order when the next surprise came. Gonsalvez stood still when he saw what was happening, his jaw hanging open. Without thinking, he waved at the captain of the Arquebusiers. The long pipes belched fire reached yet again, their targets going down by the hundred. Only one Samurai unit managed to make contact, but was forced to turn away before a proper melee could ensue. It was as if the survivors of the charge preferred dishonour to death. As one Samurai later put it, "Pragmatism is the best code for the Samurai : What works, Is"
But at the moment there was only panic and fear in the ranks, the whole Japanese flank threatened to give way. A desperate Nimoku rode through the fleeing lines, yelling, talking, cajoling, pleading and arguing. "Stop O' Mighty Sons of Japan! Fear not the Gaijin! All you Miseki men, is this how you honour Shinoto San, by fleeing in dishonour? " Nimoku managed to hold the Miseki clan, Young Suju the Son of Shinoto having replaced his fallen father as the leader. Nimoku paused to put in a word with young Suju. "Suju-San, please accept my congragulations on becoming the leader of your family. I am sorry that so auspicious an honour should be preceded by such sad a circumstance as your father's death" Suju nodded. Nimoku continued "Your clan has taken more than its share of burden in this battle. It would be unworthy of me to ask for any more. Pray stay and rest; your skills and leadership are needed to help your men in this hour of need"
Like Father, Like Son
Tanzan Nimoku left a silent Suju mourning his dead father. The other Samurai were galloping away, and The Spaniards were closing on all fronts. He desperately needed to hold the flank. Riding faster than he had ever in years, Nimoku managed to stop the men of the Osaka clan just in time. He talked to the men, who seemed to understand most of what he said. Nimoku had a few words with the men, and left in pursuit of yet another group of routers. He had long abandoned any hope of stopping the levy. Any effort would be better spent on the Samurai.
Mohan y Cardoza quickly decided to seize advantage of the confusion in the Japanese ranks. He sent his mounted skirmishers ahead to harass the Japanese taking cover in the forest while the Genitors and Mounted Arquebusiers closed in on the foot waiting in the gap between the woods and the Hill.
None of them reached the Tercio, none of them returned. Somewhere amongst the growing pool of mud and gore, their blood merged with that of their fallen peers
The troops searching the woods had finally found the Shrine in the woods; they quickly notched up a perimeter around the building. Cardoza had issued orders that the Emperor was to be kept in custody, unharmed. A few Ikko Ikki monks ventured out, saw what was happening, and ran for their lives. Neither the Emperor nor Obuchi were to be seen outside. The Spaniards stayed put and waited.
As things seemed to come under control, Tanzan Nimoku had the last shock of the day. There was no reaction from him when it happened, something seemed to have died in him after all he had witnessed during in the past two hours.
Wailing for revenge, Suju Miseki and those surviving of the clan gathered near their new leader. Decimated though their group was, they formed up as best as they could - and charged.
Nimoku had been mistaken about logic prevailing. In the supercharged atmosphere of Kobe, emotions and custom prevailed, and the last of the Misekis rode a wave of dust and raced across the bloody plains to Gonsalvez's Tercio.
As Tanzan Nimoku later wrote, "None of them reached the Tercio, none of them came back. Somewhere amongst the growing pool of mud and gore, their blood merged with that of their fallen peers".
Money for Nothing
By now, the Japanese right flank had completely collapsed. Despite the best efforts of Tanzan Nimoku, men were fleeing by the hundreds. In the centre, Manojama prepared for a last ditch defence as the Knights and the Mounted Arquebusiers approached. Very nervous, the first line of crossbow archers braced for impact. Beside them the mercenary Ronin seemed very much in the mood to fight. Their leader Sempai Yohima brandished his sword, yelling curses at the approaching Spaniards. The Gaijin were now reaching charge distance...
...and the closer they came, the less cheerful became the Ronin. It was as if the Gajin were bringing with them a wave of fear, one which washed away the courage of the Ronin. Having formed up in proper positions, the Gaijin Charged.
Sempai Yohima seemd to shrink in stature as the charge came closer. He waited to see if the Spaniards were making a feint. But it was evident in a few moments that they were in earnest. Yohima sheathed his sword, and took a few steps back. Gazing fearfully over his shoulder, he quickly accelerated his pace...
...and the Spanigh Lances were now clearly visible, glinting in the Sunlight. The Spanish Cavalry gave a fierce yell...
Sempai Yohima fled. He dropped his sword, forgot his men and ran for his life. And his men followed, not so much following their leader but saving their own lives. Manojama could but watch open mouthed. So much for all the money spent hiring them.
And then the Spanish Charge hit home.
Several hundred snaps were heard in unison as the archers let fly the bolts. The wave of man and horse made contact with a loud crunching sound, the bolts having made no impression on them.
Behind them, many of the foot wailed, and fled, their nerves broken.
The Spanish wave rolled on. Kobe was theirs.
Mohan Y Cardoza personally entered the Shrine later that day. Deep inside the monastery, he confronted the missing men - the Emperor and The Ikko Ikki leader. They were still arguing, when the Spaniard made his appearance. The Emperor took in what had happened in an instant. Nobuko Obuchi started shouting at the top of his voice.
A smiling Cardoza turned to face the Emperor. "Your Highness" he said, "The King of Spain sends his compliments. He thinks that Japan will be the best Spanish province ever".
Nishito Oyasewa paused yet again. After a while, he continued. "Manojama could not understand why the Kami had failed in defending the Holy Land and its inhabitants. What he did not realize was that The Kami always bless the competent - in this case, Senor Cardoza. In fact, one could argue that in helping Cardoza, they had helped the men of Nippon more than the Emperor or Manojama could ever have."
"Cardoza on his part repaid the Kami by keeping intact Nippon's tradition and its sacred shrines. He would often spend his night at the Shrine, playing his Guitarra in honour of the Kami. The wailing music which Manojama had laid on for the Kami was replaced by melodies from the Guitarra, for which the Kami blessed Cardoza."
"As the years passed, Cardoza made the Guitarra a part of the curriculum for the monks, along with the Hail Marys. Such is the pleasure of playing the Guitarra my child, that not a day goes by without my playing it."
His Sadness now replaced by a vigour belying his age, the old monk took his Guitarra and strummed. "Dear Student, may I present the ballard: 'The Kami Sleepeth' ".
The Money rule is a matter of fact. Tired of the atrocious tactics of players, Ravi suggested a playing charge of Rs. 500($10) per player - to be collected by the winner. Recent games including Kobe witnessed a great improvements in players attitudes and tactics, proving the worth of the Money Rule :)