Siege of Takegahana Castle
Date: Fifth month to 6/10 of Tenshō 12 (1584)
Location: Takegahana Castle in the Haguri District of Owari Province
Synopsis: Following the demise of Oda Nobunaga, Hashiba Hideyoshi acquired his territory and power. This led to conflict with the remaining members of the Oda family and other powerful figures including Tokugawa Ieyasu. The lord of Takegahana Castle, Fuwa Hirotsuna, chose to align with Oda Nobukatsu whereupon Hideyoshi built a dam to flood the castle. Hirotsuna then accepted an offer from Hideyoshi to vacate the castle in exchange for Hideyoshi sparing the lives of all of those inside.
The Siege of Takegahana Castle occurred from the fifth month to 6/10 of Tenshō 12 (1584) at Takegahana Castle in the Haguri District of Owari Province after the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute. This conflict was waged between the army of Hashiba Hideyoshi against the allied forces of the Oda and Tokugawa. Separate from this event, the Siege of Takegahana Castle in Keichō 5 was one of the preliminary battles between the Eastern Army and the Western Army leading up to the main Battle of Sekigahara.
Attack by flooding
After the death of Oda Nobunaga at the Honnō Temple Incident in 1582, Hashiba Hideyoshi emerged as the successor to his vast territory and resources, and, his power. This situation led to conflict with the allied forces of Oda Nobukatsu (Nobunaga’s second son) and Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute on 4/9 of Tenshō 12 (1584). At Nagakute, after suffering a defeat to Ieyasu, Hideyoshi changed his strategy and threatened Nobukatsu at Ise-Nagashima Castle with the aim of drawing-out Ieyasu. Hideyoshi then mobilized Hosokawa Tadaoki and others, and, on 5/6 and 5/7, toppled Kaganoi Castle, a stronghold in the western part of Owari. The next day, he had his troops establish a position on a hill in the village of Majima located one kilometer to the northwest of Takegahana Castle. He made this his main base to conduct a siege of the castle.
Fuwa Hirotsuna, the lord of Takegahana, served Nobunaga for many years, but also had close relations with Hideyoshi so an important council was held in the castle to determine which side to align with, the Hashiba or the combined forces of the Oda and Tokugawa. The final decision was made to support Nobukatsu. At this time, it is stated there were either 700 or 7,000 troops in the castle garrison. On the east side of the castle flowed the Sakasa River which was connected to the Ajika River, a tributary of the Kiso River. Embankments were built along the shore. Choosing a strategy to flood the castle, Hideyoshi ordered the construction of a dam forming an arc approximately three kilometers in length beginning from the north and extending to the west and south of the castle. The dam was designed to be approximately three meters high and twenty-five meters wide. The plan called for directing the water from the Ajika River to flood the castle. Beginning on 5/11, Hideyoshi assigned not only soldiers but also residents from across the area to build the dam at top speed. This is called the “one-night dam” but, in fact, it required five to six days to complete.
Owing to the springtime rains in the fifth month, water from the swelling Ajika River flooded surrounding homes to a depth of about one meter while the castle was inundated to the outer citadel. In an effort to respond, those in the castle built rafts and strung mats, but even snakes and mice which had nowhere to go entered the castle to escape the water, scaring the women and children. The defenders sent a messenger to request reinforcements from Nobukatsu and Ieyasu, but forces led by Honda Tadakatsu and by Oda Nagamasu and Takigawa Katsutoshi were blocked en route by the Hashiba army, forcing them to turn around. Hideyoshi concluded, however, that if Nobukatsu and Ieyasu were not going to deploy, there was no point in engaging in a drawn-out battle, so he proposed that if the defenders vacate the castle, he would spare the lives of everyone from the lord on down. Fuwa Hirotsuna accepted the offer and, on 6/10, retreated to the base of Nobukatsu in Nagashima. Meanwhile, having captured the castle, Hideyoshi returned to Ōsaka Castle.