Battle of Anotsu Castle
Date: 8/24 of Keichō 5 (1600)
Location: The area surrounding Anotsu Castle in Ise Province
Outcome: A negotiated settlement was mediated by a monk named Mokujiki Ōgo between forces representing the eastern army led by Tomita Nobutaka and Wakabe Mitsuyoshi who defended Anotsu Castle against a vastly greater number of forces under Mōri Hidemoto and others representing the western forces.
The Battle of Anotsu Castle occurred on 8/24 of Keichō 5 (1600) as one of the preliminary clashes leading to the Battle of Sekigahara.
In 1600, commanders from Ise Province including Tomita Nobutaka (lord of Anotsu Castle), Wakabe Mitsuyoshi (lord of Ueno Castle), Furuta Shigekatsu (lord of Matsusaka Castle), and Inaba Michitō (lord of Iwate Castle) intended to participate in the Conquest of Aizu (Aizu seibatsu), an expedition planned by Tokugawa Ieyasu to oust Uesugi Kagekatsu in Mutsu Province that marked an opening chapter in the Battle of Sekigahara. After departing Ōsaka in the early summer, and while en route to Mutsu, the expedition was interrupted after Ieyasu learned that Ishida Mitsunari had raised arms on behalf of the Western Army. Mitsunari had been a leader in the administration of Toyotomi Hideyoshi prior to Hideyoshi’s death in 1598. Hideyoshi’s young son, Toyotomi Hideyori, became his successor, while Ieyasu sought to become the supreme leader of the country and dispossess the Toyotomi of control.
In response to the news, Ieyasu called together his commanders in Oyama in Shimotsuke Province to deliberate, an event known as the Oyama Deliberation (Oyama hyōjō). Ieyasu had to make a critical decision whether to proceed north as planned to confront the Uesugi in Mutsu, or whether to quickly change course to attack Mitsunari. Most of the commanders under Ieyasu were former retainers of the Toyotomi, with families in Ōsaka, making the decision of significant consequence to all involved. Fukushima Masanori, lord of Kiyosu Castle in Owari Province, pledged to fight to the death for Ieyasu, while Yamauchi Kazutoyo of Kakegawa in Tōtōmi Province committed to support Ieyasu until Mitsunari turned over the castle to him. Kazutoyo’s zeal generated support among the other commanders, whereupon Ieyasu decided to head west to prepare for the arrival of Mitsunari and the Western Army.
Nobutaka and Mitsuyoshi traveled together, attempting to cross Ise Bay by boat, but were captured by ships under the command of Kuki Yoshitaka. For reasons that are uncertain, Nobutaka may have convinced Yoshitaka that he would join him in supporting the Western Army, enabling Nobutaka and Mitsuyoshi to return to their respective castles in Ise. Meanwhile, the western army headed east from Iga Province, so Mitsuyoshi converged with Nobutaka at Anotsu Castle to oppose them. Mitsuyoshi requested reinforcements from Furuta Shigekatsu. In addition, Nobutaka sought to inform Ieyasu that he was holed-up in Anotsu, and needed Ieyasu to send reinforcements west in support, but this proved to no avail because Yoshitaka had implemented a maritime blockade that severed communications with Ieyasu.
The armies commanded by Nobutaka and Mitsuyoshi, together with five hundred reinforcements under Shigekatsu, came only to 1,700 men compared to a Western Army commanded by Mōri Hidemoto, Natsuka Masaie, Ankokuji Ekei, and Nabeshima Katsushige in excess of 30,000 men. The battle began from 8/23 with minor skirmishes, then, from the morning of 8/24, Hidemoto, Masaie, and Ekei led 10,000 mounted soldiers from a position on Mount Atago, closing in on the enemy forces from the south and west and commencing a full assault. Mitsuyoshi fought ferociously on horseback against a retainer of the Mōri named Shishido Mototsugu, leaving both with serious injuries. Nobutaka wielded a long spear in the clash, and when surrounded by enemy forces, a young soldier, his wife, came to his rescue just in time. Despite their valiant efforts, Nobutaka and Mitsuyoshi understood the army could not sustain the battle, and through the mediation of a monk named Mokujiki Ōgo, negotiated a settlement on 8/25 with the western army. Nobutaka and Mitsuyoshi retreated to the Senju Temple in Ishinden. Nobutaka engaged in the rite of tonsure and went to Mount Kōya.
A retainer of the Mōri named Kikkawa Hiroie colluded with Ieyasu through Kuroda Nagamasa, entering into a secret pact to secure the Mōri territory. However, owing to the ferocious battle, Nagamasa temporarily lost his countenance, while Nabeshima Katsushige fled from the front lines following receipt of an urgent message from his father, Naoshige. After the Battle of Sekigahara, Ieyasu recognized the contributions of Nobutaka and Mitsuyoshi, assigning them their former territories along with an additional 20,000 koku for Nobutaka and 10,000 koku for Mitsuyoshi. Mitsuyoshi died the following year from injuries sustained in battle. Meanwhile, Nobutaka invested efforts in rebuilding the town below Tsu Castle (formerly Anotsu) in Ise that had been destroyed in the battle. Exhausted citizens made slow progress. In 1608, Nobutaka was reassigned to Uwajima Castle in southern Iyo Province, while Tōdō Takatora came from Imabari Castle in Iyo to replace Nobutaka and continue the work rebuilding the town below Tsu Castle. Wakabe Mitsuyoshi died on 11/29 of 1601 owing to injuries sustained on his side in mounted duels against the Shishido.