Second Battle of Ueda
Date: Early in the ninth month of Keichō 5 (1600)
Location: Ueda Castle in the Chiisagata District of Shinano Province
Synopsis: As one of the battles in the prelude to the main Battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Hidetada of the Eastern Army led a large army to attack Sanada Masayuki of the Western Army at Ueda Castle in Shinano Province. After toppling Toishi Castle, the Tokugawa forces approached Ueda Castle and began by cutting down rice fields below the castle, triggering an attack by members of the garrison. Several days later, Hidetada received orders from Ieyasu to head to Kyōto and the forces withdrew without capturing the castle.
The Second Battle of Ueda occurred early in the ninth month of Keichō 5 (1600) at Ueda Castle in the Chiisagata District of Shinano Province. This was a preliminary conflict leading up to the main Battle of Sekigahara on 9/15. The battle was waged between Tokugawa Hidetada of the Eastern Army and Sanada Masayuki of the Western Army.
Sanada Masayuki and Tokugawa Ieyasu, along with the Uesugi clan, submitted to the Toyotomi administration. In 1590, the Conquest of Odawara led to the fall of the Gohōjō clan while Ieyasu moved to the Kantō. In the wake of Hideyoshi’s death in the eighth month of 1598, Ieyasu, in his role as the leader of the Council of Five Elders, gained influence. Forces opposed to the Tokugawa led by Ishida Mitsunari, a member of the Five Commissioners (an administrative organ of the Toyotomi) gathered together. In the sixth month of 1600, Ieyasu summoned troops for the Conquest of Aizu to oust the Uesugi and departed from Ōsaka. Mitsunari saw this as an opportunity to form the Western Army with Mōri Terumoto as the commander-in-chief and he rebelled against Ieyasu. These developments culminated, in the ninth month, in the Battle of Sekigahara.
Masayuki followed Ieyasu as the leader of the Eastern Army but, at the end of the seventh month of 1600, in Shimotsuke Province, Masayuki and his second son, Sanada Nobushige (Yukimura), abandoned Ieyasu and returned to Ueda to join the Western Army. Meanwhile, his eldest son, Sanada Nobuyuki, joined the Eastern Army. The traditional theory is that a decision was made for members of the family to join both sides of the conflict so that, no matter which side prevailed, the family would survive. It is also noted, however, that Nobuyuki was married to the adopted daughter of Ieyasu, while Nobushige’s wife was the daughter of Ōtani Yoshitsugu and Masayuki’s wife was the sister of the wife of Ishida Mitsunari.
Ieyasu received news of the rebellion led by Mitsunari while the army was staying in Oyama in Shimotsuke en route to Aizu. After holding a war council, he decided to turn back toward Ōsaka to confront the rebellion. At this time, Ieyasu’s main division and an advance battalion comprised of daimyō who had served as patrons of the Toyotomi proceeded on the Tōkai Road. After an army of 38,000 solders commanded by Tokugawa Hidetada stayed in Utsunomiya and prepared defenses against the Uesugi, these forces marched on the Nakasen Road toward Ueda Castle with the intention of pacifying Shinano Province.
Course of events
On 9/2, Hidetada arrived in Komoro. On 9/3, as the Tokugawa army approached the environs of Ueda, Masayuki sent a plea via his eldest son, Nobuyuki, for their lives to be spared whereupon Hidetada accepted the request. On 9/4, however, Masayuki changed his attitude and assumed a bellicose posture toward Hidetada, triggering a conflict.
On 9/5, Hidetada’s army approached Ueda Castle and, after directing forces led by Nobuyuki (Nobushige’s older brother) toward Toishi Castle (an auxiliary base to Ueda Castle defended by Nobushige), the army led by Nobushige retreated. Consequently, Nobuyuki’s forces captured Toishi Castle without a fight.
After Hidetada’s army toppled Toishi Castle, on 9/6, a unit led by Makino Yasunari began to cut-down the rice fields below Ueda Castle. In an effort to stop them, several hundred soldiers from the Sanada came out of the castle but were defeated, with survivors fleeing back to the castle. The Tokugawa forces pursued them to the front gate, but then Hidetada ordered them to withdraw. Later, on 9/8, orders arrived from Ieyasu to march to Kyōto, so Hidetada assigned some troops to pin-down Ueda Castle and headed toward Mino Province. Hidetada could not reach the Battle of Sekigahara for the main battle on 9/15.
According to a secondary account of this Second Battle of Ueda, Hidetada’s army incurred a major defeat, and, as a result, he was delayed and could not participate in the main Battle of Sekigahara. There are no primary sources, however, to support this account, and, instead, in genealogical records, only references to small skirmishes arising from cutting-down of the rice fields. Hidetada was surprised at the difficulty of assaulting Ueda Castle. On 9/9, he temporarily withdrew his forces to Komoro and, immediately thereafter, a messenger from Ieyasu arrived bearing a letter which ordered him to go to Akasaka in Mino by 9/9. Meanwhile, based on a letter from Hidetada to Mori Tadamasa, Hidetada received the orders to go to the capital on 9/8 while in Ueda.
After this battle, Mori Tadamasa (aligned with Tokugawa and located at Matsushiro Castle), positioned troops in Katsurao Castle to have them keep watch on Ueda Castle. Nobushige carried out nighttime and early morning attacks resulting in a continuation of small-scale clashes.
Meanwhile, Makino Yasunari and Tadanari (father and son) who had been in pursuit of enemy forces absconded to protect their subordinates so were subject to temporary confinement.