This is the battle report of the first battle in our Renaissance campaign featuring a Spanish Invasion of Japan. The Campaign was played using Piquet/Theatre of War (ToW) and the battle using Piquet/Band of Brothers supplement. The game portrays the desperate Japanese defense of Okayama against a superior Spanish invading force. The detailed armies for both sides can be found at the end of the battle report.
Shih Yoshiwara, on the outskirts of Okayama Prefecture: Genjikkjo-san, the tayu oiran of the Yoshiwara was a skilled listener. It was therefore without the least discomfort that she listened to the strange tales narrated by the Spaniard seated across her as she served him tea. "Alas Senorita, things are much different in Spain. People with your talents, and my needs, are er, viewed with displeasure by the populace. The Church - that is our religion - and Society disapproves of places such as this" Mohan y Cardoza sighed and continued "If only they knew. Moreover, people such as yourself are a joy to talk to and interact with". Genjikko San nodded in understanding. She signaled to her apprentice.
A lamp was lit to the left of Senor Cardoza. Scant feet away from him, stood a stage which came alive as he watched. Beautiful Women wearing strange costumes began an elaborate dance accompanied by soothing music. "Cardoza San, may I present Shinjuku, the dance of the Geisha".
An amused Cardoza watched admiringly as the dance progressed before his eyes. Genjikko San kept explaining things to him " It takes a tayu years of practice before she gets to perform in a stage. Trust me Cardoza San, you will not get to watch a show such as this in the entire Nippon". Cardoza had no doubt about it. He relaxed, his mind away from the worries of life and battle for the duration of the dance.
When the performance ended, he clapped, much to the astonishment of those present. The danseuse bowed and retreated. The stage became dark again. "Your girls danced well Senorita. Allow me to present a humble tribute to their skill." said Cardoza. And before she could blink, he had jumped up from the floor and seated himself on a pile of futons. Drawing himself up to the edge, he drew out a strange looking instrument from the folds of his bag. "Ahhhh! The pleasure of playing the Guitarra is unmatched by any other" said the General, his eyes twinkling in anticipation.
Turning to Genjikko San, he said with a flourish "And now Senorita, I present "Le Malguera", the song of summer". He strummed on the Guitarra while Genjikko San sat enraptured by the music that filled the chamber, her mind filled by visions of Summer.
Chun Hsing - The Shape of the Army
Seiichi Okamura, leader of the Okayama Clan of Samurai squinted at the lay of the field. He was angry, surprised and fearful at the same time. "How dare the Shogun ask me to withdraw and leave Okayama to the Gaijin wolves?!" thought he, reflecting upon the letter the Shogun had sent him. He had refused to heed the order and had instead mustered his clan in defence of Okayama. Shogun or not, he would not let Okayama fall. Nothing, however, had prepared him for the sight of the Spanish army. The horizon teemed with troops, their deadly weapons glinting in the early morning sunlight. He glanced at his own troops, far less in number. "Will I be able to hold Okayama?" Defeat did not worry him as much as the loss of face it would incur him and his clan. Quickly, he resolved to change his plans. There would be no all out charge. Instead, he would defend as best as he could.
General Cardoza, his mind clear and body energetic after a soothing night's activities, scanned the Japanese lines as they formed up. He was looking for their defense deployments. Earlier in the day, his scouts had hesitatingly informed him that the Japanese had left the village itself undefended - something which he had chosen to disbelieve. Now, as he watched the Japanese disposition, he was convinced of what the scouts had said. The entire Japanese army had deployed to his left flank, led by Samurai horse backed up by Samurai foot. Across the bridge, en route to the Village were deployed the Japanese light artillery supported by skirmishers and mercenaries. Taken by surprise, Mohan y Cardoza blinked, and watched as the Japanese made their first move...
Seiichi Okamura was desperate. The earlier plans had been abandoned, his decision strengthened by the sight of the massive artillery support which the Spanish had amassed in their left flank. "Amida! How many guns! How can my horse manage to charge in face of those?!" . Turning away from the Spaniards, Okamura summoned his aide and asked for Mirchi Oda, his leader of the horse and second in command. "Mirchi San" said Okamura as soon as Oda arrived, "you will immediately form up the cavalry in columns and march across the bridge. Your aim is to reach the village and form up for defence." Oda was stunned. He had expected to lead a charge as soon as he had deployed, thereby crushing the enemy left flank. He tried to protest "But Seiichi San, Bushido dictates that..." Okamura would not even allow him to finish. " Your first duty, is to obey my orders. Do as you are told, Mirchi San". Oda bowed, and retreated. Still fuming, but silent, he went back to his troopers and issued the necessary orders.
Senor Ernesto Neruda - Cavalier, Drunkard and Crossbow archer, took a swig from his wine pouch. He was plain disappointed with his line of work. Life as the leader of a Skirmish Crossbow Unit, even a mounted one, was boring. His unit never got to do any real fighting, and more often than not ended up delivering messages and messengers under armed escort to various places. Today would be no different from the others. Wiping his lips dry, he settled down to wait for time to pass him by...
Imoji Shikosumi - foot soldier, cynic and Crossbow Archer, wiped the sweat from his bow. His was one of the two skirmish cross bow units assigned to shield the Light Gun belonging to the Okamura's forces. He considered his position. To his left was the Light Gun, and to his right the marshes of Okayama. Across the plains, he could catch glimpses of the Gaijin army as they moved about. not bad, he thought. He relapsed into thoughts. Life for Imoji had been a struggle to realise the truth. Although born into a family of devout Buddhists, Imoji had grown up with a scorn for all things Zen. He could not understand what monks meant by achieving peace under the most dire of circumstances. He had recently joined the army, only to be placed into a lowly skirmisher unit. No fighting, no honour. Alas, where was this Zen which every one spoke of?
K'ai Ho - An Opportunity presents itself - Enter Swiftly
From where he stood, Cardoza could not at first make out what was going on in the Japanese ranks. Cautiously, he ordered the Genitors on his left flank to advance while the skirmish crossbow men made for the cover of the woods. He had already given the necessary orders to get his Tercio behind his left flank. No further action was forthcoming until they were in place. Suddenly, he saw movement in the Japanese lines. "By the virgin's eyes!" exclaimed Cardoza as he realised that the Mounted Samurai facing him were moving *across* the field, over the bridge towards the village. "A column! By Santa Maria!" Wheels spun in his head, and in an instant he was galloping towards the nearest mounted unit he could find.
Ernesto Neruda was shocked when Cardoza galloped towards him all alone. He fumbled with his pouch and dropped it in his hurry. Cursing, he snapped stiff in his saddle as the General neared. "Pardon me, Senor" muttered Neruda "But it was hot, and I ..." But Cardoza was not listening. "Off with you, Neruda!" Shouted the General. "Get those fools - those idots prancing about in a column! Go man, GO!" Without fully comprehending, Neruda spurred his horse on, his mind still dazed "Was the Senor General nuts?" . His unit followed suit, and they charged across the plains.
Neruda found his doubts answered when his mind and vision cleared. Across the open ground he could see what the General had. Two whole units of Samurai horse had crossed the bridge in road column formation and were racing to the village. "By the Holy Crossbow!" "No wonder the Senor Cardoza was in a hurry!" He realised that his unit was finally in for some action. Blood pounding in his eardrums, he forced his horse into a gallop...
Fa Chi - Release the Trigger
The vantage position atop his horse meant that Seiichi Okamura could see what Mirchi Oda could not. He was watching the Samurai advance to the village when some motion in the plains caught his eye. This was unplanned for, and he squinted hard to see who that was. He stiffened as he caught sight of first the mounted Crossbow unit and then the mounted arquebusiers race across the open. Frantically, he waved his flag and tried to signal the Samurai column. His trumpeter let out two quick blasts, but they were lost in the din. Watched by a horrified Okamura, the Spaniards reached firing range flanking the Japanese column...
Neruda was so excited that he had trouble steadying his hands. Several feet to his front, Samurai on their horses tried desperately to change formation and face the threat from their flank. With no time to lose, Neruda gave orders in quick succession. "Antonio, Marino! Form up the men for maximum fire effect" Turning to his aide, "Diablo, quick, my Crossbow!" "Ready men, aim your bows!. Fire at my word!" Unconsciously, Neruda realised that the days and hours spent in the training filed under the watchful eyes of the famed Senor Gonsalvo of Italy had done them good. The unit formed up in mere seconds. "FIRE!!!!" Ordered Neruda, squeezing the trigger at the same instant. Several hundred bolts flew across the gap which separated them from the Samurai, their flight heralded by the clang of the springs of the bows against now empty sockets. With deadly precision, each one of them found their target...
...and a huge hole was torn in the ranks of the first unit of mounted samurai. Before they could blink, several hundred horses had been rendered riderless, others panicking and rearing as if sensing the catastrophe. The unit broke and routed.
If the Samurai thought that the Crossbow Bolts were deadly fare, they were mistaken. The heavier and therefore slower unit of mounted Spanish Arquebusiers under the command of Senor Pablo Escobedo had arrived on the scene just as the Crossbow men had finished their work. Not to be outdone by the Skirmishers, Senor Escobedo lost no time in forming up his own men in firing lines. "Arqubuses at the steady position! FIREEEE...!!" In reply, four hundred Arqubuses roared and spit flame from their mouths. Luckily for the Spaniards, their weapons did not misfire and many of them even managed to hit the enemy.
The carnage was terrible and mind boggling to the Samurai. Before the flooding eyes of Mirchi Oda his best men fled, their sense of duty overtaken for the time being by a sense of mortal fear. He sat still in his saddle, and had to be dragged to safety by his aides who rose to the occasion and did what best they could to control the panic.
Imoji Shikosumi was one of the many Japanese who witnessed the slaughter of the Samurai cavalry. Eventhough fearful, he did not panic. The Gaijin were now advancing steadily across the field from all directions. The more he looked, the more obvious it became that the flank of his unit was vulnerable, and so would be the rear if the Artillery gave way. Nervously, he stared at the field again...
Bushido - The Way of the Warrior
Mohan y Cardoza did not pause to celebrate the routing of two of the fiercest of the enemy units. He rode across to his two subordinates, Senors Marcenti and Papasi and ordered them to advance their troops as had been planned. His job done, he cantered to his own position in the centre. From the Spanish right, under Papasi, the Pikemen formed up and began marching forward. The heavy Italian Elmeti rode ahead of them , while the civilians behind them manning the Organ Gun sweated and cursed to keep up the pace with them.
In the centre, Mohan y Cardoza ordered the Spanish Knights and the heavy artillery forward, flanked by a groups of skirmishers and arquebusiers on foot. The dramatic results achieved by the Crossbowmen and the Mounted Arquebusiers had wounded the pride of the Spanish Knights, who now rode forward with a sense of purpose.
To the Spanish Left, the Tercio had almost reached its designated place. The Genitors awaited near the woods, their purpose being to observe rather than to act. Everything depended on when the Tercio would make it into place.
Across the field, Mirchi Oda wept silent tears for his dead warriors. No words of Okamura or his friends could comfort him, and at length he was left alone, his command effectively paralysed.
Thoughts of defeat, duty, and Bushido flooded Oda's mind. Try as he did the sight of the carnage would not leave his eyes. "My children!" he wailed "My loyal warriors!" The words of his sensei came back to him " Yours, dear student, is the way of the Samurai-Warrior, bound by Bushido. In assuming leadership, you have chosen not only to lead, but also to be lead. Everything which applies to those whom you lead must apply to you; all their fears and joys, hopes and disappointments, victories and defeats must be equally yours; For only when you perceive in the fullest all that concerns your men will you become sensei - The True Leader."
"And how miserable have I failed!" "But yet, there is hope. I can still make my men proud of me; I can still feel what they did" Kneeling, he carefully withdrew his short sword, the Wakizashi. Seppukku - salvation for the vanquished! Very slowly, closing his eyes, Mirchi Oda dragged the sharp edge of thousand layered steel across his abdomen.
SHIH - Force, Influence, Authority, Energy
Okamura's face bleached a pale white when his aide presented him with the bloodied Wakizashi, torn dress and the Death Poem written by Mirchi Oda. With trembling hands, he read it out
Gunpowder Smoke; Our Dreams Vanish; So do I.
No explanation was necessary. Signaling to leave him alone, Okamura performed slow breathing to calm himself. "Oda San! I will miss your companionship! Shame on me that you paid in full for *my* mistake!" As if shown the hopelessness of the situation by the tragedy, Okamura rose and ordered a general retreat.
Mohan y Cardoza did not however envisage the Japanese army getting out intact in his plans. In fact he counted on destroying as many of the Japanese troops as possible on the battlefield itself. He ordered a full advance on all fronts. But as it happened, he had to control a large army which was not as easy as it sounded. Fortunately for Cardoza, his several years spent in the provinces and palaces of Spain fighting military and political battles had taught him several valuable lessons. In typical Cardoza style, he now put these to brilliant use, translating them into useful ideas! As a result, the Spanish giant lumbered forward, even the Tercio having found the speed and determination to reach its destination faster. He watched with satisfaction as the Genitors on the left flank contained any advances by the Japanese Arqubusiers, the Ashiguru. Behind them, his swordsmen and musketeers were making good speed, the artillery lumbering behind them to catch up.
On the right flank, the pikemen, followed by the Organ guns, were abreast with the village, which was deserted. Even as they watched, the lone mounted Samurai unit covering the approaches to the bridge was being surrounded by the Spanish horse, who swarmed all around the place. The Japanese artillery dare not fire, lest they be overwhelmed immediately afterwards. Their orders were to cover the retreat.
On the Japanese side of the field, Okamura was improvising as best as he could under the circumstances. He noticed, to his distresses that the loss of their leader had gone badly with his cavalry, however heroic a death others deemed it to be. To add to his trouble, he got word that the Ronin - mercenary swordsmen - were plotting to withdraw as soon as confusion set in. Turning his attention to his right flank, Okamura - and the Japanese troops - saw up front for the first time the monster named Te-su-ho. As if emboldened by its presence, the musketeers who gave flank support advanced right to the front of the lone unit of Samurai Cavalry which stood on the Japanese right flank, their hats drawn in mock salute.
The Cherry Blossom Falls
Tanzan Mojikku blinked away his tears. He deeply regretted the death of Mirchi Oda, the leader of the Samurai Cavalry, under which his unit was listed. "Karma. Is not this the way of all life?" Consoling himself thus, Mojikku opened his eyes, and stared right into the eyes of the Spanish musketeers who were waving at him. Rage welled in him, ad he lost control of himself. "Baaaanzaaai!" yelled the doughty warrior, galloping his entire unit into the ranks of the musketeers...
...and were blown to bits by a deadly volley from the waiting musketeers. Tanzan Mojikku was among the many who fell, his kami finally allowed reunion with his leader. Several others followed suit, and those who did not fled without pausing to reflect on the Spiritual aspects of the turn of events. The Spaniards cooly, reloaded their muskets, advanced, and took aim at the artillery unit across the river, whose rear was now exposed to them...
Imoji Shikosumi was very afraid. He could see the Gaijin to his front, flank and rear. The fall of his unit was looked imminent, many of the soldiers already fretting anxiously. Try as he might, his mind kept wandering between thoughts of death and heaven, neither offering any consolation. Desperately, Shikosumi tried to remember what his sensei had taught him as a child to do in times of a crisis...
Several events happened at once following the rout of the Samurai horse. The Genitors, excited by the actions of the musketeers, charged the Ashiguru standing to their front. This time around, Seiichi Okamura orders reached them first, and the unit fell back in just enough time. The charge hit thin air, and for a moment confusion reigned among the ranks of the Genitors until General Marcenti himself got on the scene and put things back to normal with a few quick orders.
The Samurai foot, also driven to a frenzy, did not heed their orders to retreat and charged headlong into the Tercio. The Arqubusiers guarding the Tercio instantly managed a quick volley, right into the faces of the advancing enemy. Fortunately for the Japanese, the Arquebus was an inferior to the musket, and as infantry, they made smaller targets than their mounted brethren. Yet, some of the hot metal found its mark, and the charge was halted midway. As if chastened by the loss of life, the Samurai foot too, began a retreat.
Senor Marcenti needed to be told no more. He ordered the Tercio to advance, noting with satisfaction the terror they inflicted on the Samurai foot who were by now scurrying off the battlefield. The Tercio surged forward, missed its quarry and wheeled to ascend the hill. In the bottom of the hill, the musketeers had fired once against the artillery without making any appreciable effect. They reloaded their weapons yet again, and took aim...
...and to their surprise, the Japanese gunners ran off as fast as they could, and took giant leaps into the river!! The musketeers barely managed to fire, and laughed their heads off. By the time the smoke settled, the Japanese guns were no longer to be seen.
When the men who manned the guns took flight, Imoji remained calm. To his surprise, all his fears had left him in an instant once he fully realised and accepted the hopeless nature of his situation. Imoji sat down in the lotus position and closed his eyes. "Zen", he told his astonished companions, "lies within".
In the centre of the battlefield, Mohan y Cardoza was firmly in charge. The lone Samurai Cavalry unit was now surrounded on all sides by the Spaniards. Seeing that things were indeed drawing to a close on his left flank, Cardoza did not waste any further time in ordering a charge.
The Spanish Knights, their pride redeemed by this opportunity to fight, made mincemeat of the Japanese horse, who affected adversely by the loss of their beloved leader did not even put up a worthwhile fight.
Okayama had fallen.
Shih Yoshiwara, on the outskirts of Okayama Prefecture: Genjikkjo-san, the tayu oiran of the Yoshiwara was a skilled listener. It was therefore without the least discomfort that she listened to the strange tales narrated by the erstwhile leader of the now non existent Okayama clan seated across her as she served him tea. "Alas Genjikko San, our defence of Okayama failed miserably. Mirchi Oda committed Seppukku and " said Seiichi Okamura through tears " the army was effectively massacred. The Shogun is now looking for my head, but I do not blame him. Alas, life is so hard."
Genjikko San nodded in understanding. Ethics forbade her to grant any services to a man who could not pay. Yet, Okamura San was had been a good customer all along. Thinking for bit, an idea dawned on her. She signaled to an apprentice. "I have just the right thing for you, my lord" said the tayu oiran.
The apprentice handed her a Guitarra, a present from Cardoza. Smiling to Okamura, who watched in astonishment, she strummed softy. "Okamura San, may I present 'Le Malaguera', the Song of Summer".
While Okamura listened, Genjikko's thoughts wandered. "Come tomorrow, I will have to see Reverend San regarding joining the Gaijin's religion. We Japanese have so many Gods; what difference will another one make? Especially if it meant more patrons for the Yoshiwara..."