Battle of Dōhora
Date: 8/28 of Eiroku 8 (1565)
Location: Dōhora Castle in the Chūnō area of Mino Province
Outcome: Despite valiant efforts to defend against Oda forces approaching Dōhora Castle from multiple directions, the Kishi were unable to hold the castle and, in the course of the battle, lost Kishi Nobuchika (lord of the castle) and many defenders. A subsequent attack launched by Nagai Michitoshi against the Oda on their route back to Inuyama Castle failed.
The Battle of Dōhora occurred on 8/28 of Eiroku 8 (1565) during which combined forces from the Oda and Kajita clans fought against members of the Kishi clan who were aligned with Saitō Tatsuoki.
Prelude to the battle
In preparation for an invasion by Nobunaga of Mino Province, Nagai Michitoshi of Seki Castle, Satō Tadayoshi of Kajita Castle, and Kishi Nobuchika of Dōhora Castle entered into an alliance known as the Three Castle Alliance of Chūnō. Upon the proposal of Michitoshi, Tadayoshi’s daughter named Yaeryoku was sent as a hostage to be adopted by the Kishi, but Tadayoshi then dispatched a resident living below Kajita Castle named Umemura Ryōtaku to Inuyama Castle (controlled by the Oda) and, via Niwa Nagahide, colluded with the Oda.
Unuma and Sarubami castles fell to the Oda army, causing Tajimi Shūrinosuke to flee to Kai Province. Other defeated soldiers converged with Kishi forces at Dōhora Castle.
Nobunaga sent Kanamori Nagachika as a messenger to Dōhora Castle to demand surrender, but Kishi Nobuchika refused. To demonstrate the depth of their resistance, Nobuchika’s eldest son, Kishi Nobufusa, decapitated his own son right in front of Nagachika, whereupon Nagachika departed.
While preparing for battle, the Kishi crucified Yaeryoku on Mount Nagaomaru near Dōhora Castle. That evening, one of Tadayoshi’s retainers named Nishimura Jirōbei sneaked in and took away her body to have it interred at the Ryōfuku Temple in Kajita.
The Siege of Dōhora Castle
Oda forces led by Niwa Nagahide, Kawajiri Hidetaka, and Mori Yoshinari attacked Dōhora Castle from the south and west, while Satō Tadayoshi led forces divided into four units from Kajita in the north. On the opposing side, Kishi Nobuchika defended Dōhora Castle the south and west fronts, while his eldest son, Kishi Nobufusa, defended the north. Nobunaga established his main base for the attack on Mount Takahata, dividing Dōhora from Sekima, and mounting a counterattack against Nagai Michitoshi who led reinforcements from Seki Castle across the Tsubo River and into the Takahata forest. After the counterattack, Nobunaga moved his main base to Mount Chausu right in front of the inner citadel of Dōhora Castle. Nobunaga rode his horse around directing units of soldiers. The forces attacking from the west contended with steep terrain, while Kishi troops in ambush posed a stiff defense hindering their advance. Forces advancing from the north led by Satō Tadayoshi and his son attacked on their way up a mountain road. Meanwhile, defenders commanded by Kishi Nobufusa launched repeated counterattacks against the enemy, but as the conflict wore on, more and more soldiers were killed or wounded. After incurring injuries in three locations, Nobufusa committed seppuku. Among those attacking from the south, Ōta Gyūichi contributed by shooting the defenders with arrows. After eighteen clashes, the Kishi forces refused to retreat despite increasing numbers of killed and wounded. Nobuchika’s wife wielded a long sword and fought valiantly; however, as the day progressed, Oda units led by Kawajiri Hidetaka and Mori Yoshinari reached the main tower while Niwa Nagahide attacked the inner citadel. In the midst of violent clashes on the castle grounds, Nobuchika and his wife recited farewell poems and then stabbed one another. After a desperate fight, Nobuchika’s younger brother, Kishi Nobusada, was killed as the castle finally fell to the invaders.
Aftermath of the battle
In the evening after the fall of Dōhora Castle, Nobunaga stayed at the residence of Satō Tadayoshi and his son at Kajita Castle. On the next day, on grounds below the castle, he conducted a count of heads taken from the Kishi forces. While returning to Inuyama Castle, forces led by Nagai Michitoshi from Seki and 3,000 soldiers commanded by Saitō Tatsuoki from Inokuchi in Gifu attacked the Oda army. The Oda forces totaled only 800 men so instead of engaging the attackers, retreated to Hiroya, and pretended to arrange for battle, only to make a further rapid retreat to Unuma. After it appeared the Seki forces planned to attack Kajita Castle, Nobunaga dispatched reinforcements led by Saitō Toshiharu. As a result of the Battle of Seki and Kajita, Seki Castle fell to the Oda. Moreover, after its capture, Dōhora Castle was abandoned. Thereafter, at the Battle of Kajita and Kaneyama, the castle was utilized as the main base for Mori Nagayoshi. Other members of the Kishi clan including siblings and children of Kishi Nobuchika, Nobufusa, and Nobusada survived the battle, preserving the Kishi family for future generations.