Battle of Eguchi

江口の戦い

Miyoshi Nagayoshi

Settsu Province

Miyoshi Masanaga

Date:  6/12 to 6/24 of Tenbun 18 (1549)

Location:  Eguchi Castle in Settsu Province

Outcome:  After a long siege, and faced with dwindling provisions, Miyoshi Masanaga and his soldiers based at Eguchi Castle incurred an attack by Miyoshi Nagayoshi that resulted in the death of Masanaga and a significant number of his forces.

Commanders:  Miyoshi Nagayoshi

Forces:  3,000

Casualties:  Unknown

Commanders:  Miyoshi Masanaga

Forces:  3,000

Casualties:  880

The Battle of Eguchi occurred over a twelve-day period from 6/12 to 6/24 of Tenbun 18 (1549) at Eguchi Castle in Settsu Province.  In a battle between family members, the army of Miyoshi Nagayoshi clashed with forces led by Miyoshi Masanaga.

Prelude – discord within the Miyoshi clan

Miyoshi Nagayoshi served meritoriously under the administration of Hosokawa Harumoto in conflicts including the Battle of Taihei Temple and the Battle of Shari Temple.  As Nagayoshi solidified his role as the commander-in-chief of the Miyoshi clan, he could no longer disregard the existence of a family member named Miyoshi Masanaga who was trusted by Harumoto.  On 5/6 of 1548, Masanaga was accused of slander in an incident by which Ikeda Nobumasa, a kokujin, or local lord, from Settsu Province (the son-in-law of Masanaga) was forced to commit seppuku in the residence of Harumoto.  Harumoto’s efforts to have Ikeda Nagamasa (the orphan of Nobumasa and grandchild of Masanaga from a daughter married into another family​) become the successor to Nobumasa drew opposition from other lords in Settsu.

On 8/12 of 1548, Nagayoshi made a request to attendants of Harumoto (Tai Gensuke and Hirai Tango-no-kami) to murder Miyoshi Masanaga and Miyoshi Masakatsu (father and son).  The pretext for the request was to eliminate reprehensible individuals who caused discord in the family.  Harumoto, however, did not approve of this request from Nagayoshi.  On 8/11, a conflict occurred at Ikeda Castle (the former base of Nobumasa) in which a band of retainers ousted supporters of Masanaga and pledged cooperation with Nagayoshi, creating a precarious situation.

Nagayoshi proceeded to join the camp of Hosokawa Ujitsuna who was opposed Harumoto.  Nagayoshi requested his father-in-law, Yusa Naganori (the deputy military governor of Kawachi) to deploy, while Nagayoshi himself initiated military action.  In response, Rokkaku Sadayori of Ōmi Province (Harumoto’s father-in-law) interpreted these actions as a rebellion and requested the deployment of Hosokawa Mototsune (the military governor of Izumi), Kishiwada Hyōbu-taifu, and members of the Negoro Group of Kii Province.  In addition to Ujitsuna and Naganori, Nagayoshi garnered support from Matsura Okinobu of Izumi, Naitō Kunisada (the military governor of Tanba Province), Tsutsui Junshō from Yamato, Ikeda Nagamasa and many other kokujin from Settsu.  Meanwhile, Harumoto and Masanaga were joined by a lesser number of kokujin from Settsu including Ibaraki Nagataka and Itami Chikaoki, along with some of the daimyō from neighboring provinces such as Rokkaku Sadayori.

Defenses along the battlefront in Settsu

On 10/28, Nagayoshi departed from Koshimizu Castle in Settsu and advanced to Masanaga’s base called the Seventeen Sites in Kawachi – a group of privately owned manors known as shōen.  In this area, he surrounded Enami Castle in Kakenokōri in Kawachi defended by Masakatsu.  This continued into the next year, after which, on 2/18 of 1549, he met with Yusa Naganori in Sakai to gain his cooperation.  On 2/26, he led his forces to Amagasaki and returned to the Seventeen Sites.

Meanwhile, a majority of the kokujin in Settsu were allied with Nagayoshi so Masanaga could not invade Settsu from Yamashiro.  He took a roundabout course into Tanba and invaded from the Kuwada District into the northern portion of Settsu.  From 1/24, the forces headed south through the Ina River Basin, stationed additional troops at Shiogawa Castle in the Kawabe District, attacked Ikeda Castle to the south, and, with the support of Itami Chikaoki, approached the Seventeen Sites.

On 3/1, Nagayoshi sent forces to Nakajima Castle in Settsu to the west of Enami Castle.  He ordered an attack on Kunijima Castle located between Hori and Enami castles, defended by an ally of Masanaga named Hosokawa Harukata (a grandson of Hosokawa Masakata), and defeated forces sent by Masanaga to reinforce the defenders.  Nagayoshi’s forces toppled Kunijima Castle and drew near to Enami Castle.  Masanaga retreated to Chikaoki’s base at Itami Castle while Nagayoshi continued the siege of Enami Castle.  Enami, however, was a well-provisioned stronghold so even by the fourth month there were no signs that it would fall.

At the beginning of the fourth month, Harumoto headed toward Ōmi to join forces with Rokkaku Sadayori who dispatched reinforcements to Kakenokōri.  Taking the same route as Masanaga, the forces advanced from Tanba to northern Settsu and on to the Ina River.  After entering Shiogawa Castle on 4/26, the forces deployed on 4/28 to the Muko District and proceeded to set fire across Nishinomiya, causing a major disturbance in the area behind them.  On 4/29, the Masanaga and Chikaoki armies burst out of Itami Castle, setting fires in Amagasaki.  The forces withdrew after launching an unsuccessful attack against Tomatsu Castle on 5/1.  Harumoto aimed to split the Miyoshi army between Koshimizu and Nakajima castles and to support Masakatsu at Enami Castle.

Taking the offensive, on 5/2, Harumoto ordered Kōzai Motonari, the commander in charge of defending Miyake Castle, to attack Akutagawayama Castle while preparations were underway for reinforcements from the Rokkaku army.  Located in the northeast portion of Settsu, this castle was strategically situated on the border of Yamashiro and Settsu provinces.  The lord of the castle, Akutagawa Magojūrō, supported Nagayoshi, so Masanaga and Harumoto had to march a circuitous route; however, forces led by Kōzai Motonari were blocked by the army of Miyoshi Nagayoshi in Nishigawara near the Sōji Temple.  On 5/5, Masanaga went from Itami Castle to Miyake Castle, while, on 5/28, Harumoto joined Masanaga at Miyake from Shiogawa Castle for support.

Battle situation in the sixth month

Harumoto’s army moved around to assorted castles in Settsu in battle against enemy forces, but did not have the capability to defeat the Miyoshi army on their own, so they kept the forces in check while awaiting reinforcements from the Rokkaku.  The Miyoshi army pacified the area around the Seventeen Locations while laying siege to Enami Castle, but the castle defenders were well prepared so the standoff dragged on.

In the sixth month of 1549, the situation finally changed.  On 6/11, Masanaga departed Miyake Castle and entered Eguchi Castle.  Eguchi was strategically located in the northeast end of Kita-Nakajima, to the northeast of Nakajima and Kunijima castles, to the north of Enami Castle, and to the south of Miyake Castle.  Eguchi was a stronghold surrounded on three sides by the Yodo and Kanzaki rivers.  Masanaga deployed his forces with the aim of countering Nagayoshi by capturing Eguchi Castle to block the Miyoshi army.  Furthermore, he could secure the route to Miyake and Enami to await the forces of Rokkaku Sadayori from Ōmi.

Eguchi Castle, however, had a vulnerability.  Although it was a stronghold surrounded by rivers to the north, east, and south, a blockade of the waterways would prevent escape by defenders.  Nagayoshi promptly surrounded Eguchi and severed the supply routes.  He then dispatched units commanded by his younger brothers (Atagi Fuyuyasu and Sogō Kazumasa) to the north of Eguchi to cut-off communications with the Hosokawa army who were supporting Eguchi and Miyake castles.  Nagayoshi set-up a position in the village of Beppu on the shore of the Beppu River, a tributary to the Kanzaki River.  These forces severed communications as well as the path of retreat, isolating Eguchi Castle.

The Battle of Eguchi

Shinjō Naomasa, the lord of Asazuma Castle in Ōmi, who came from Ōmi in support of Masanaga was killed in action at Eguchi.  Masanaga and Harumoto maintained their defenses while awaiting the arrival of the Rokkaku army.  Rokkaku Sadayori decided to increase the number of troops.  A contingent of 10,000 men from Ōmi led by Sadayori’s son, Rokkaku Yoshikata, was expected to arrive on 6/24 in Yamazaki near the border of Yamashiro and Settsu provinces.  Yamazaki was a one-half day trek away from Eguchi Castle.

Masanaga composed a waka, or classical Japanese poem, expressing his concerns as he waited for reinforcements from Ōmi, which concerns Nagayoshi did not overlook.  Immediately prior to the expected arrival of the Rokkaku army at Eguchi on 6/24, Nagayoshi and Sogō Kazumasa launched a sudden attack on the castle from the east and west.  Owing to the long siege, the weary defenders could not hold the castle, and, beginning with Masanaga, as many as 800 soldiers were killed in the onslaught, including Takabatake Naganao, Hirai Shinsaemon, Tai Gensuke, and Hōkabe Saemonjō.  Under one theory, Masanaga drowned in the Yodo River while attempting to flee south to Enami Castle.

Consequences of the battle

After the death in battle of Masanaga at Eguchi Castle, Harumoto departed Miyake Castle and traveled through Tanba on 6/25 without fighting to Kyōto.  Fearing that Nagayoshi would pursue him, Harumoto took refuge in Sakamoto in Ōmi Province along with Ashikaga Yoshiharu (the former shōgun) and Ashikaga Yoshiteru (the thirteenth shōgun and son of Yoshiharu).  After Hosokawa Harukata and Hosokawa Mototsune accompanied them, their territory of Izumi Province fell to Nagayoshi.  Meanwhile, Masakatsu abandoned Enami Castle and retreated to Kawarabayashi Castle.  Itami Chikaoki, an ally of Masanaga based at Itami Castle, was surrounded by the Miyoshi army.  In the third month of 1550, a settlement was reached by which Nagayoshi gained control of Settsu Province.

Ibaraki Nagataka, who had allied with Masanaga and supported the Harumoto administration, collapsed at Eguchi.  Thereafter, he returned to the service of Nagayoshi (Hosokawa Ujitsuna) and became a commissioner.  Having prevailed, on 7/9, Nagayoshi accompanied Ujitsuna to Kyōto, and took control of the capital.  Harumoto and Yoshiharu, however, resisted Nagayoshi from Sakamoto in Ōmi and Higashiyama in Kyōto.  Masakatsu and Kōzai Motonari converged with Harumoto and repeatedly deployed to Kyōto, while Nagayoshi responded to counterattacks from Harumoto and his supporters while eliminating external enemies who heeded the call to resist from Harumoto.  For a period of years, Nagayoshi continued battles in Yamashiro and Settsu provinces.

Additional Notes

Nagayoshi rebelled against Harumoto and initiated military action, and, through Hōjō Ujitsuna, the bitter enemy of Harumoto, took the role of deputy shōgun from Harumoto.

The reason Masanaga departed from Miyake Castle and deployed to Eguchi Castle was not to wait for reinforcements from the Rokkaku and confront Nagayoshi, but planned to go to support Masakatsu who had been holed up in Enami Castle for eight months with little food remaining.  In any case, Nagayoshi viewed this as a good opportunity so ordered Fuyuyasu and Kazumasa to the establish a position along the Beppu River located between Miyake and Eguchi castles.

Masanaga’s army path of retreat was cut-off and food almost gone.  The army stayed in Eguchi for eleven days (from 6/12 to 6/23) and had less than three days of food remaining.

Fuyuyasu  led the Awaji naval forces on the Kanzaki River and facilitated transportation on the area waterways.

Nagayoshi hesistated to kill his lord, Hosokawa Harumoto, and could not readily move his forces.  However, Sogō Kazumasa saw this aspect of Nagayoshi, and intervened on his own accord to direct the army.