Great March from Mino
The Great March from Mino occurred in the fourth month of Tenshō 11 (1583) when Hashiba Hideyoshi (later known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi) led a massive army on a march from Ōgaki in Mino Province to Kinomoto in Ōmi Province, a total of fifty-two kilometers in five hours, for the Battle of Shizugatake.
For this era, this march occurred at a considerably fast pace with immediate consequences for the ensuing battle. Hideyoshi’s victory at Shizugatake was key for his ascendance to power.
On 4/20 of Tenshō 11 (1583), Hideyoshi headed toward Mino for the purpose of subduing Oda Nobutaka at Gifu Castle. Heavy rain caused the Nagara and Ibi rivers to overflow. Gifu Castle was surrounded by these rivers so Hideyoshi could not attack and, instead, stopped in Ōgaki. During the encampment, Hideyoshi received news that Sakuma Morimasa (an enemy commander) had toppled Ōiwayama fortress in Ōmi defended by Nakagawa Kiyohide which Hideyoshi had earlier constructed on the front lines of the battle against Shibata Katsuie. Hideyoshi lamented the additional news that Kiyohide died in the battle. Nevertheless, he appeared to understand that the Shibata forces were in hand and the battle would determine the ultimate ruler of Japan.
Hideyoshi’s camp sent messengers in advance to the villages along the road to Kinomoto, ordering them to prepare for food distribution and to make torches. Around 2:00 PM, Hideyoshi’s army departed from Ōgaki and, around 7:00 PM the advance forces arrived at the destination in Ōmi. With a break in-between and having gathered their numbers, the Hashiba army launched a counterattack at dawn the next day. Considering the intricate routes between Ōgaki and Kinomoto, moving the forces from Gifu to Shizugatake was a plausible feat so it is surmised this was not a haphazard operation.
Orders from Shibata Katsuie to quickly retreat after toppling the fortress were not executed. Surprised to learn that Hideyoshi was approaching Kinomoto, the members of the Sakuma army encamped on Mount Ōiwa hurriedly tried to withdraw but were pursued by the Hashiba forces, collapsed, and fled in all directions. This led to the further withdrawal of the entire Shibata army. Katsuie knew that the Hashiba army would come back but was surprised at the speed of their march.
Meanwhile, Maeda Toshiie, a yoriki, or security officer, for the Shibata with territory in Fuchū in Echizen Province fled from the front lines, later serving in the vanguard forces of the Hashiba army to attack the Shibata. On 4/24, the Hashiba army toppled the main base of Katsuie at Kita-no-shō Castle during which Katsuie and his wife, Oichi-no-kata, took their own lives while three daughters raised by Oichi-no-kata from a prior marriage were protected by Hideyoshi’s forces.