Siege of Tochio Castle

栃尾城の戦い

Nagao Clan

Tochio Castle

Echigo Province

Echigo Kokujin

The Siege of Tochio Castle occurred in Tenbun 13 (1544) at Tochio Castle in Echigo Province.  The conflict was waged between Nagao Kagetora (later known as Uesugi Kenshin) upon request of his older brother, Nagao Harukage (the deputy military governor of Echigo), against kokujinshū, or provincial landowners, of Echigo who attacked Tochio Castle.  This is notable as the first experience in battle for Kagetora.

In the spring of 1544, members of the gōzoku, or wealthy families, in Echigo who despised Harukage launched a rebellion.  Kagetora, serving as the governor of the Koshi District at the age of fifteen, entered Tochio Castle but was viewed as a novice by members of the local gōzoku who proceeded to assault the castle.  Kagetora divided the small garrison into two units.  He had one battalion set-up a base at Kasamatsu and launch a surprise attack from the rear of the main base of the enemy.  He then succeeded in having the main division charge out of the castle to decimate the enemy army while in disarray.  This battle demonstrated Kagetora’s exceptional abilities as a commander as he suppressed the rebellion.

Thereafter, Kagetora achieved a series of victories, suppressing the rebellion in Echigo.  In lieu of Harukage, he inherited the headship of the Nagao family and unified the province.

According to legend, at this time, Kagetora was opposed by Nagao Heirokurō of Sanjō and Kuroda Hidetada, the lord of Kurotaki Castle in Echigo.  In 1545, an attack by Hidetada on Kasugayama Castle is understood as another rebellion after his earlier surrender.  Other legends from this period raise issues in regard to the timeline.  For example, according to one legend, when Hidetada attacked Kasugayama Castle, Nagao Torachiyo (later Uesugi Kenshin) escaped danger by hiding under the eaves.  It is difficult, however, to believe that Kagetora was not at Tochio Castle at this time given that he was sent to Tochio to quell unrest in the middle portion of the province during a chaotic period in Echigo.

Authenticated sources have not been discovered so the validity of these legends is in question.