Battle of Muraki Fortress
Date: 1/24 of Tenbun 23 (1554)
Location: Muraki fortress in Owari Province
Outcome: The Imagawa constructed Muraki fortress as a base to encroach on the Oda territory in Owari, and after Nobunaga attacked the fortress from three directions, the Imagawa forces surrendered.
The Battle of Muraki Fortress occurred on 1/24 of Tenbun 23 (1554) and was waged between the Oda and Imagawa armies at Muraki fortress in Owari Province.
Circumstances prior to the conflict
In 1549, after the Imagawa clan occupied Anjō Castle in Mikawa Province, before long, the forces temporarily occupied Kariya Castle under Mizuno Nobuchika. Nobuchika had served as head of the Kariya-Mizuno clan and lord of Kariya Castle since inheriting the clan 1543. These developments created a problem for the Oda, and, finally, Oda Nobuhide and Imagawa Yoshimoto reached an agreement whereby the Mizuno clan based in western Mikawa and the Chita Peninsula would come under the command of the Imagawa. However, following the death of Nobuhide on 3/3 of 1552, his successor, Oda Nobunaga, discarded the agreement and triggered another round of hostilities. Yoshimoto, the eleventh head of the Imagawa clan, a shugo daimyō and sengoku daimyō governing Suruga and Tōtōmi provinces, added Yamaguchi Noritsugu of Narumi Castle to his command. Until then, Narumi Castle had served as a frontline of defense for the Oda to protect against encroachment by the Imagawa from Suruga. Meanwhile. Nobunaga caused the Ogyū-Matsudaira clan of Mikawa to separate from the Imagawa. During the continuation of this conflict, the Mizuno clan sided again with the Oda.
With the intention of eliminating the Mizuno, the Imagawa sent troops to western Mikawa, destroyed Yamaoka Dengorō of Shigehara Castle in Shigihara, headed to attack Ogawa Castle held by Mizuno Kingo (Mizuno Tadawake), and constructed a fortress in Muraki.
Next, those in Teramoto Castle betrayed the Oda in favor of the Imagawa, blocking the road between Nobunaga’s base at Nagoya Castle and Ogawa Castle. As a result, Nobunaga traveled by sea route to avoid Teramoto Castle and attack Muraki fortress from behind. During Nobunaga’s absence, it was anticipated that his rival, Oda Nobutomo of Kiyosu Castle, would attack Nagoya Castle, so Nobunaga sent a messenger to his father-in-law, Saitō Dōsan, to request reinforcements.
Course of events
On 1/18 of 1554, Dōsan dispatched 1,000 soldiers under Andō Morinari. He attached five retainers from the Tamiya, the Kabutoyama, the Anzai, the Kumazawa, and 物取新五, and ordered them to provide daily reports.
On 1/20, Morinari arrived in Owari and set-up a camp in Shiga-Tabata near Nagoya Castle. Nobunaga promptly went to give thanks to Morinari. The following day, he was supposed to deploy but returned owing to protests raised by Hayashi Hidesada and his son, Hayashi Michitomo. Nobunaga was not concerned so went on the deployment. On 1/21, the Oda army lodged in Atsuta.
On 1/22, Nobunaga intended to travel on the sea route, but encountered very strong winds so the captain and crew of the boat opposed setting sail. Nobunaga compelled them to launch the boat. Meanwhile, the Oda army arrived near Ogawa Castle and set-up a field camp.
On 1/23, Nobunaga went to Ogawa Castle to meet Mizuno Nobumoto and listened intently to Nobumoto’s explanation of the circumstances. Nobunaga stayed overnight in the castle.
On 1/24, at the break of dawn, Nobunaga deployed and, from 8:00 AM, launched an attack against Muraki fortress. The main division under Nobunaga was positioned to the south of the fortress.
The northern side of the fortress was well-reinforced but lightly guarded, while to the east was the main gate, to the west was the rear gate, and to the south was a very large pot-shaped moat. The Oda army split-up for the attack with units under Mizuno Tadawake from the east, Oda Nobumitsu from the west, and Nobunaga from the south.
Nobunaga’s forces assigned units to each of three merlons in the walls of the fortress, exchanging arquebuses while reloading so as to enable them to continue firing while other soldiers climbed the moats. A soldier named Mujika was the first to climb the outer wall.
Owing to the incessant attacks by the Oda, the defenders incurred an increasing number of dead and wounded, finally leading them to surrender. The Oda also lost many soldiers, and as it was becoming dark, Nobunaga accepted the outcome and delegated the clean-up to Mizuno Tadawake. Many servants of Nobunaga were also killed in the fight, and it is said he shed tears at the scene of mayhem.
The battle came to an end around 4:20 PM on 1/24 of 1554. On 1/25, Nobunaga dispatched troops to Teramoto Castle to set fire to the town below, and returned to Nagoya Castle. On 1/26, Nobunaga gave his thanks to Morinari and, on 1/27, Morinari and his troops returned to Mino.