Battle of Ukino
Date: Seventh month of Eiroku 1 (1558)
Location: Ukino in the Niwa District of Owari Province
Outcome: Forces commanded by Oda Nobunaga on one side and Oda Nobukatsu on the other were well-matched in a vigorous battle until reinforcements commanded by Oda Nobukiyo arrived to join Nobunaga and overwhelm Nobukatsu’s army.
The Battle of Ukino occurred in the seventh month of Eiroku 1 (1558) in Ukino in the Niwa District of Owari Province. The conflict was waged between the armies of Oda Nobunaga and Oda Nobukata from opposing branches of the Oda family in Owari.
Background of the Oda family
For generations, the Shiba clan served as the military governors of Owari. This lasted until 1554 when Shiba Yoshimune, a shugo daimyō and the fourteenth head of the clan, was assassinated in his castle in a plot orchestrated by Oda Nobutomo, the head of the Kiyosu-Oda branch of the family. The Oda had been serving as the deputy military governors of Owari, but after steadily gaining influence, had usurped the Shiba in terms of real authority. In this era, the Oda were divided into two branches: (i) the Kiyosu-Oda branch (the Oda Yamato-no-kami family), deputy military governors of the four lower districts of Owari, and (ii) the Iwakura-Oda branch (the Oda Ise-no-kami family), deputy military governors of the four upper districts of Owari. The Iwakura-Oda, headed by Oda Nobuyasu, were the lineal heirs to the Oda clan and therefore regarded to be in a superior position vis-à-vis the Kiyosu-Oda. The Kiyosu-Oda family was supported by three sub-branches, referred to as the Kiyosu sanbugyō, or three magistrates. These sub-branches included the Inaba-no-kami family, the Tōzaemon family, and the Danjō-no-jō family. The Danjō-no-jō is also referred to as the Shobata-Oda clan. Oda Nobunaga originated from the Oda Danjō-no-jō sub-branch of the Kiyosu-Oda.
Following the death of Nobunaga’s father, Oda Nobuhide, on 3/3 of 1552, Nobunaga began a quest to unify the Oda family and take control of Owari Province. First, on 8/16 of 1552, he defeated Oda Nobutomo of the Kiyosu-Oda branch at the Battle of Kayazu. On 8/24 of 1556, he confronted a challenge from his younger brother, Oda Nobukatsu, prevailing at the Battle of Inō. Next, he ousted Shiba Yoshikane, the eldest son and heir of Shiba Yoshimune. Yoshikane had earlier fled to for protection under Nobunaga following the assassination of Yoshimune by Nobutomo of the Kiyosu-Oda branch in 1554.
Next, Nobunaga had to confront the Iwakura-Oda branch headed by Nobuyasu. Nobunaga and Nobuyasu were on friendly terms in their youth, and Nobuyasu later wed the younger sister of Nobuhide (Nobunaga’s father). Nevertheless, later on, they became alienated from one another. Nobuyasu sided with Saitō Yoshitatsu after Yoshitatsu killed Nobunaga’s father-in-law, Saitō Dōsan, at the Battle of Nagaragawa in the fourth month of 1556. Nobuyasu also supported Nobunaga’s younger brother, Oda Nobukatsu, during the Battle of Inō. Nobuyasu, however, became estranged from his eldest son, Oda Nobukata, and intended for his second son, Oda Nobuie, to become his heir. Consequently, in 1558, Nobuyasu was ousted by Nobukata from Iwakura Castle.
Planning for a showdown
With knowledge of the internal conflict flaring in the Iwakura-Oda branch, Nobunaga prepared for an opportunity to engage Nobukata in battle. After the demise of Nobuhide, Oda Nobukiyo, the lord of Inuyama Castle, had become increasingly independent, so Nobunaga offered his older sister, Inuyama-dono, to wed Nobukiyo and secure him as an ally.
Course of the battle
In 1558, Nobunaga led 2,000 soldiers and clashed against 3,000 soldiers led by Nobukata at Ukino. After a vigorous fight, 1,000 reinforcements from Nobukiyo arrived, immediately changing the situation on the battlefield and the crushing of Nobukata’s army. After losing over 1,200 men, Nobukata was forced to flee to Iwakura Castle.
In 1559, Nobunaga led forces and surrounded Nobukata at Iwakura. After a siege lasting for several months, Nobukata surrendered. This defeat at the hands of Nobunaga marked the end of the Iwakura-Oda branch of the family. Later, Nobunaga also ousted Nobukiyo and achieved his objective to unify Owari. Thereafter, Nobukata’s whereabouts are unknown, but Nobuyasu (who had earlier been ousted by Nobukata) was pardoned and became the head priest at the Sōken Temple in Ōmi Province.
According to certain theories, the Battle of Ukino occurred in 1557 and the fall of Iwakura Castle occurred in 1558.
A soldier named Hayashi Yashichirō who fought for the Iwakura-Oda at the Battle of Ukino is deemed a relative of Hayashi Mimasaka-no-kami who died in battle at the Battle of Inō in the preceding year. An expert archer, Yashichirō exchanged volleys with Hashimoto Ippa, an expert arquebusier fighting for Nobunaga. The shooting ended in a draw owing to injuries. In continued fighting, a wounded Yashichirō cut the arm below the elbow of Sawaki Yoshiyuki (the younger brother of Maeda Toshiie), but was then killed by Yoshiyuki. Other soldiers in the Iwakura forces included Yamauchi Moritoyo (the father of Yamauchi Kazutoyo who later became a daimyō) and Horio Yasuharu (the father of Horio Yoshiharu who later served under Toyotomi Hideyoshi).