Battle of Dōmyōji

道明寺の戦い

Edo Bakufu

Kawachi Province

Toyotomi Clan

Date:  5/6 of Keichō 20 (1615)

Location:  The village of Dōmyōji in the Shiki District of Kawachi Province

Synopsis:  In one of the battles comprising the Summer Campaign of the Siege of Ōsaka, Toyotomi forces departed Ōsaka Castle in a bid to intercept Edo bakufu forces descending upon them from multiple directions.  Owing to delays in organizing their forces from disparate locations in the midst of dense fog, the Toyotomi were already at a disadvantage when Gotō Mototsugu led a division to establish a position on Mount Komatsu.  After being surrounded by the bakufu army and their infantry units, the Gotō forces attempted a descent, only to lose in the ensuing battle.

Lord:  Tokugawa Ieyasu

Commanders:  First Division: Mizuno Katsunari; Second Division: Honda Tadamasa; Third Division: Matsudaira Tadaakira; Fourth Division: Date Masamune; Fifth Division: Matsudaira Tadateru

Forces:  34,300

Losses:  Over 180

Lord:  Toyotomi Hideyori

Commanders:  Forward Division: Gotō Mototsugu; Rear Division: Sanada Nobushige

Forces:  18,400

Losses:  Over 210

Battle of Dōmyōji

The Battle of Dōmyōji occurred on 5/6 of Keichō 20 (1615) in the village of Dōmyōji in the Shiki District of Kawachi Province.  This was one of the conflicts comprising the Summer Campaign of the Siege of Ōsaka waged between the Edo bakufu army and the Toyotomi family.

Circumstances in Yamato Province

After the Winter Campaign of the Siege of Ōsaka, the Toyotomi army completely filled-in the moats surrounding Ōsaka Castle so, during the Summer Campaign, the Toyotomi were forced to depart the castle to wage the battle.

The bakufu army approached Ōsaka Castle from the directions of Kawachi, Yamato, and Kii provinces.  Mizuno Katsunari served as the commander-in-chief of the vanguard army approaching from Yamato, leading a contingent of 34,300 troops including Matsudaira Tadateru and Date Masamune.

On 4/30, at Ōsaka Castle, the defenders made a decision to challenge the vanguard units coming from the direction of Yamato by waiting near a bottleneck at Hirano in Kawachi where the bakufu army would invade.

On 5/1, among the Toyotomi army, a division of 6,400 troops led by Gotō Mototsugu followed by 12,000 troops led by Mōri Katsunaga and Sanada Nobushige departed from Ōsaka Castle.

On 5/5, the Gotō, Mōri, and Sanada divisions staying at Hirano in Kawachi left that evening and assembled at the break of dawn in the environs of Dōmyōji.  The forces planned to intercept the bakufu army in the bottleneck area of the village of Kokubu.

Morning hours

At 12:00 AM on 5/6, a division of 2,800 soldiers led by Gotō Mototsugu departed from Hirano, passed-through Fujiidera, and, before the break of dawn, arrived in Dōmyōji.  However, at this time, no other troops had arrived, including forward or rear units.  Tadatsugu learned that the bakufu army was building a presence in the village of Kokubu.

Having recognized that his strategy had already failed, Mototsugu traversed the Ishi River, climbed Mount Komatsu, and established a position.  Once the bakufu army learned that enemy forces were setting-up on Mount Komatsu, they surrounded the mountain.

At 4:00 AM, the Gotō division launched an assault against the forces led by Matsukura Shigemasa and Okuda Tadatsugu.  Tadatsugu was killed in action while the Matsukura division collapsed, but Mizuno Katsunari and Hori Naoyori came to their aid and he barely escaped.

The bakufu army surrounding Mount Komatsu, supported by arquebus fire by forces led by Date Masamune and Matsudaira Tadaakira, attempted to take control of the mountain.  The Gotō forces repelled successive lines of troops sent forth by the bakufu army, but there were limits to their ability to withstand the assault.  The Gotō forces sent casualties to the back of the lines and came down Mount Komatsu for a final charge against the bakufu army.  Despite repelling several enemy units, owing to attacks on the flanks by forces led by Niwa Ujinobu, the charge stalled while Mototsugu was struck by arquebus fire from the Date forces.

Around noon, after approximately eight hours of fighting, Mototsugu was killed in action and the Gotō division destroyed.

Afternoon hours – Battle of Konda

By this time, the remainder of the advance division including Susukida Kanesuke, Akashi Takenori, and Yamakawa Kanenobu arrived in Dōmyōji and intercepted the bakufu army.  Kanesuke wielded a long sword but was killed in action.  While not certain, there are theories that he was killed by Kawamura Shigenaga (a retainer of Mizuno Katsunari), forces under Honda Tadamasa, or forces under Katakura Shigenaga.  Others in the division retreated in the direction of the village of Konda.  The division led by Mōri  Katsunaga then arrived in Dōmyōji.  Sanada Nobushige gathered the soldiers who retreated and arrived at the camp in the environs of Konda.  After locating the Sanada troops, Shigenaga from the Date forces came on the attack.

Shigenaga split his division into two, with infantry forces on each flank to press the attack.  The Sanada forces responded with their own infantry, having soldiers lay in wait until the Katakura forces came near before intercepting them.  Shigenaga himself cut-down four cavalry soldiers.  As the violence escalated, Watanabe Tadasu, among others, incurred serious injuries.  After the Sanada forces pushed the Date forces to the environs of Dōmyōji, Shigenaga retreated to Fujiidera and converged with the Mōri forces.  The bakufu army reconstituted their formations from Dōmyōji to near Konda while the Toyotomi army established positions from Fujiidera to the west of Konda so that the two armies confronted one another, giving rise to a stalemate.

Around 2:30 PM, news of defeat at the Battle of Yao and Wakae, along with orders to the Toyotomi army to retreat, came from Ōsaka Castle.  With the Sanada division serving as the rear guard, from 4:00 PM, the Toyotomi forces began to retreat in the direction of Junji-Tennōji.  Mizuno Katsunari advocated for a pursuit of the retreating forces, but, owing to the weariness of their troops, the commanders refused.

Delays in joining the Toyotomi army

The division led by Gotō Mototsugu was the only one to conduct operations according to schedule.  There are various theories concerning the reasons for the surprisingly late arrival of the other divisions, including: (i) the departure time was swayed by dense fog, (ii) the divisions came together as a mishmash so, in the midst of a dense fog and darkness, the forces dispersed, making it difficult to conduct a march, or (iii) the Gotō forces deployed delay tactics until those following could establish their formations.