The samurai of Satsuma had grown dissatisfied with the direction the government was taking. Assessment - What caused the death of Saigō Takamori? Then, kneeling on the ground, Saigo had Beppu cut off his head with a single sword stroke. The imperial troops spent several days constructing an elaborate system of ditches, walls and obstacles to prevent another breakout. Saigo was already on board a ship to Korea when the government reconsidered its agreement to his scheme and recalled him. Monumenta Nipponica. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. Saigo also started an artillery school. Those notes continued in circulation long after the rebels had been driven out of the area and in spite of a government ban on their use. If an internal link led you here, you may wish to change the link to point directly to the intended article. On February 13 and 14, the Satsuma domain's army of 12,900 organized itself into units. Each man was armed with a small firearm — either a rifle, a carbine, or a pistol — as well as 100 rounds of ammunition and, of course, his katana. Satsuma had no reserve of extra weapons and insufficient ammunition for an extended war. The artillery consisted of 28 5-pounders, two 16-pounders, and 30 mortars. His resolve remained unshaken. In the final battle, the Battle of Shiroyama, 30,000 imperial troops bore down upon Saigo and his few hundreds of surviving rebel samurai. Despite the overwhelming odds, the Imperial Army did not attack immediately upon arrival on September 8 but instead spent more than two weeks carefully preparing for its final assault. In the wee hours of the morning on September 24, the emperor's troops launched a three-hour-long artillery barrage, followed by a massed infantry assault that began at 6 am.Â. Too much blood had been spilled, but honor forbade surrender. The rebels’ next position was on the rugged slopes of Mount Enodake. Almost all of their modern firearms had been lost. The garrison, however, no longer had to contend with the wild frontal assaults that had characterized the early stage of the siege. The government, however, refused to negotiate. I feel confident in removing the romantic image of protecting the samurai and fighting corruption, as he was instrumental in modernizing Japan's military. The end of the Satsuma Rebellion also marked the end of the samurai era in Japan. Already a popular figure, after his death, Saigo Takamori was lionized by the Japanese people. He is popularly known as "The Last Samurai," and proved so beloved that Emperor Meiji felt compelled to issue him a posthumous pardon in 1889. The students then seized the arms factories, hired more workers and went into full production. During that period, one of Saigo’s subordinates slipped into Kagoshima, despite the presence of the imperial garrison, and raised a force of 1,500 samurai. Even personal appeals for aid from his close friend, Shimpei Eto, who led 2,000 Kyushu samurai in revolt in 1874, failed to move him. Instead, while costly, it has caused the introduction of new monetary and fiscal policies that led Japan to become a more modern and independent state thanks to Finance Minister Matsukata Masayoshi. French newsmagazine Le Monde Illustré / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain. After eight days of tramping through rugged, rain-swept mountains and misty forests, Saigo’s men found their path blocked by a large patrol. His students began agitating for war. To help support and employ those men, Saigo started a series of 132 private schools, or shigakko, scattered throughout Satsuma province. Saigo and his army made a seven-day march south to Hitoyoshi, where they dug trenches and prepared for the imperial army to attack. When the attack finally came, the Satsuma forces withdrew, leaving small pockets of samurai to hit the larger army in guerrilla-style strikes. In July, the Emperor's army encircled Saigo's men, but the Satsuma army fought its way free with heavy casualties. The Fiscal Reform The Satsuma Rebellion ultimately did not cause a financial collapse. However, he soon learned that 50 Tokyo police officers who were Satsuma natives had returned home with instructions to assassinate him in the case of an uprising. With that, Saigo threw his support behind those organizing for a rebellion. Gathering a few pieces of artillery from the private schools and some food from the local people, they took possession of Shiroyama (‘castle mountain’). Working in cooperation, the two imperial forces closed in on the Satsuma army. He decided to break the ring of steel one more time, determined to fall back on Kagoshima or die trying. The other player is the Imperial Army." Samurai scaled the walls repeatedly, only to be cut down by small arms fire. These attacks on the ramparts continued for two days, until Saigo decided to settle in for a siege.Â. Oku’s small force, though discovered and attacked the next morning, was able to keep a hole open in the rebel lines long enough to revictual the garrison before passing through and linking up with the imperial army. Rebellions broke out in Satsuma, Hizen, and Tosa. When night came, they split their force in two, slipped around both flanks of the patrol and escaped again. Many able men who had fought and bled to return real power to the emperor in 1868 now spoke of the ‘good old days’ of samurai dominance. It had the dimensions of a civil war, and was the last in a series of upheavals against the social and cultural changes driven forward by the Meiji government. While the army was becoming westernized, statesmen such as Prince Tonomi Iwakura and Toshimichi Okubo championed industrialization, so Japan could sustain a modern, competitive war machine. The game uses two custom decks of cards, the Samurai Deck and the Imperial Deck. The Satsuma Rebellion proved that a conscript army of commoners could out-fight even a very determined band of samurai — provided they had overwhelming numbers, at any rate. Furthermore, he made no attempt to contact any of the other han for support, and no troops were left on Kagoshima to secure his base against an attack. Moreover, the letter was not in Saigo’s handwriting. Yamagata’s battle plan was to assault the samurai position from all sides at once. In August 1871, the daimyo lost their old domains — for which they were given compensatory pensions — and the old provinces were replaced with prefectures. Every man was to hold his position at all costs. After laying in a large store of food and demolishing several hundred houses around the castle to provide fields of fire, the general and his command settled down to wait for Saigo. In comparison, Saigo’s force was reduced to melting down metal statuettes that local civilians smuggled in, and casting the metal into bullets. The battle around Nobeoka had been so fierce that the imperial army was forced to detail troops to keep floating bodies from fouling a pontoon bridge over which their supply lines passed. Ironically, this provoked open conflict, although with the elimination of samurai rice stipends in 1877, tensions were already extremely high." From Kagoshima through the Siege of Kumamoto Castle by JAMEs H. BUCK HE SATSUMA REBELLION of 1877 was the final act of organized military resistance to the reforms of the Restoration Government. Although Satsuma Domain had been one of the key players in the Meiji Restoration and the Boshin War, and although many men from Satsuma had risen to influential positions in the new Meiji government, there was growing dissatisfaction with the direction the country was taking. In brusque terms, the letter informed him that Saigo would soon be passing by his command, and requested that the garrison be turned out to meet Saigo and receive his orders. Forced to carry Saigo on a special litter, since he was suffering from a hydrocele, the little army managed to slip through the fog undetected, quietly dispatching the few guards who barred its path. The author was an British diplomat serving in Japan during the Meiji Restoration and one of his primary tasks was to stay abreast of and report on current events during his posting. Reader view. The government had already dealt with several small but violent samurai revolts, and the prospect of Satsuma samurai, which were widely regarded as the best in Japan, being led in rebellion by the Great Saigo was too terrible to contemplate. The Satsuma rebellion was a resist from the Meiji government and modern changes that took place in 1877. This rebellion was led by the restoration hero Saigō Takamori and lasted six months. By the time the imperial forces managed to dislodge the rebels, each side had suffered more than 4,000 killed or wounded. Whether intentionally or not, Saigo was forging the nucleus for a rebellion. The Meiji Restoration of 1868 signaled the beginning of the end for Japan's samurai warriors. After centuries of samurai rule, however, many members of the warrior class were understandably reluctant to give up their status and power. They also believed that only the samurai had the courage and training to defend Japan from its enemies, internal and external. Surely no conscript army of peasants could fight like the samurai! In 1877, the samurai of the Satsuma Province rose up in the Satsuma Rebellion or Seinan Senso (Southwestern War), challenging the authority of the Restoration Government in Tokyo and testing the new imperial army. [Jerome David] Salinger, U.S. novelist (The Catcher in the Rye, Franny and Zooey). The Satsuma advance guard, 4,000 strong, set out on February 15, marching north. They were followed two days later by the rear guard and artillery unit, who left in the midst of a freak snowstorm. Satsuma daimyo Shimazu Hisamitsu did not acknowledge the departing army when the men stopped to bow at the gates of his castle. Few would return. That force, comprising two infantry brigades and 1,200 policemen, boarded ship at Nagasaki on March 17 and sailed to Yatsushiro Bay. Travel Aug 16, 2014. Although the castle, built in 1598, was among the strongest in Japan, Saigo was confident that his 9,000 samurai would be more than a match for Tani’s hitherto-untried peasant conscripts. Unlike previous shizoku uprisings, which were small and poorly organized, the Satsuma Rebellion severely tested the government’s capacity to wage war. It signaled the beginning of the Japanese Imperial Army's rise to domination in eastern Asia, which would end only with Japan's eventual defeat in World War II almost seven decades later. To his already extensive artillery train, Yamagata added the weight of five warships in the harbor and began to systematically reduce the rebel positions. The map covers the whole Kyushu island and uses point to point system. During the 1860s, Japan underwent a period of turmoil as conservative-minded daimyo and samurai attacked both the government and foreigners in an attempt to restore the country’s isolation. The Satsuma Rebellion (Seinan Sensō 西南戦争, 'Southwestern War') was a revolt of the Satsuma clan samurai against the Imperial Japanese Army. Suddenly, 2 million samurai found themselves ineligible for careers that had once been theirs alone. Ironically, the conflict did more to defeat samurai goals than any act of legislation could have done. The first letter may have been sent by shigakko extremists hoping to provoke a confrontation. A large number of imperial guardsmen had resigned with Saigo and later accompanied him to Kyushu. On the night of April 8, eight companies of infantry under Major Sasukata Oku slipped through the Satsuma lines, dispatching the enemy sentinels with swords or garrotes. The government had already dealt with several small but violent samurai revolts, and the prospect of Satsuma samurai, which were widely regarded as the best in Japan, being led in rebellion by the Great Saigo was too terrible to contemplate. Cause of the Satsuma Rebellion Saigo Takamori's decision to lead a rebellion against the government he was instrumental in creating is rather bewildering. In order to cut Saigo off from his base, an imperial force made up of three warships, bearing 500 policemen and several companies of infantry, arrived in Kagoshima on March 8. During the days of the han, Satsuma had taken a lead in arms manufacture and importation. …the greatest, revolt came in Satsuma in 1877. 4, Sophia University, JSTOR, 1973. Giving up in disgust, the officer ordered the ship to leave Kagoshima. By landing troops at Oita and Saiki to the north of Saigo’s position and making rapid forced marches up from the south, Yamagata was able to surround Saigo again, but the rebels proved too strong to hold. Vol. Saigo, with his small force, could hardly have wanted a fight, and if he had, he would not have warned Tani that he was on the way. During the stalemate at Tabaruzuka, Yamagata decided to land a detachment behind the rebel lines, so as to fall on them from the rear. To their disgust, the officers were treated as if they were deserters. Prominent among them was Field Marshal Takamori Saigo. One of his most loyal followers, Shinsuke Beppu, carried him farther down the hill on his shoulders. The Meiji Era controlled most of Japan, except for a small area in the southwestern part of Japan, which was the Satsuma. Rejecting large numbers of volunteers, he began his journey with only 12,000 students. In addition, all students were required to take part in weapons training and instruction in tactics. By February 21, he had 3,800 soldiers and 600 policemen at his disposal. -The name of the rebellion comes from Satsuma Domain which became a place for unemployed samurai. The ver… Before returning to their own camp, they were given a letter from Yamagata to Saigo, which entreated him in the friendliest terms to cease the senseless slaughter and surrender. To aid in the air of legality that he was trying to project, Saigo wore his army uniform. The war had cost the imperial forces more than 6,000 troops killed and 10,000 wounded, while the much smaller samurai army had lost 7,000 dead and 11,000 wounded. On the evening of August 19, Saigo burned his private papers and his imperial army uniform. To defeat the large and well-trained rebel forces, the government had to mobilize the entire standing army and reserves and enlist an additional 7,000 shizoku as “police” auxiliaries. After surrounding the castle on the 22nd and keeping up small-arms fire all day, the rebels launched a series of ill-coordinated assaults on the walls after dark. One of the important Bakumatsu people, Takamori Saigoh decided to make a revolt in his home area, Satsuma (Kagoshima) in 1877 against his old friends and partners inside Meiji government. As a result, there was considerable weaponry stockpiled at several armories scattered throughout the province. Although Prince Taruhito Arisugawa was the official commander of the imperial forces assigned to put down the Satsuma rebels, real command was in the hands of General Aritomo Yamagata. -The Satsuma rebellion was a rebellion of samurai against the new imperial government. Reorganizing his army into nine companies, he retreated to the east. "The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori." Officials intended to transport them to Osaka. The Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. The series of lessons was planned and delivered to high ability Year 8 students in an international school and as such could be delivered to students who are one or two academic years above with minor tweaking. Japan’s future was ultimately resolved in 1868, however, when Emperor Mutsuhito stepped into power under the title of Meiji (‘enlightened peace’), abolished the shogunate, ratified a constitution and moved the imperial capital to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo. Determined to prevent future humiliations, Japanese leaders decided that they needed a modern army equipped with the most up-to-date weapons, trained by the best officers of the day: the French and Germans. During the last days of the siege, Saigo lived in a hole measuring only 6 feet deep and 3 feet wide. Saigo Takamori likely was killed in the initial barrage, although tradition holds that he was just gravely injured and committed seppuku. In either case, his retainer, Beppu Shinsuke, cut off his head to ensure that Saigo's death was honorable. The few surviving samurai launched a suicide charge into the teeth of the imperial army's Gatling guns, and were shot down. By 7 o' clock that morning, all of the Satsuma samurai lay dead. In spite of the futility of his cause, however, Takamori Saigo’s integrity and strength of convictions left a lasting impression on both the people and the government he had opposed. Although deprived of his grand gesture, Saigo and fellow conservatives continued to agitate for war and a samurai-based army, but the peace party got the upper hand in the imperial councils. In the same year, the wearing of swords in public became optional, and in 1876 it became illegal. The imperial government in Tokyo expected Saigo to come to the capital by sea or to dig in and defend Satsuma. Saigo, however, had no regard for the conscripted farm boys who made up the imperial army. What caused the Satsuma Rebellion? ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Military History magazine today! They were rebelling against the controversial new emperor of Japan, Emperor Meiji. At the height of the battle, Saigo wrote a private letter to Prince Arisugawa, restating his reasons for going to Tokyo. So great was his dedication that when his government sought a plausible excuse for a war with Korea, Saigo offered to go there as ambassador in 1873, intending to insult the Korean government to such a degree that it would be forced to kill him, thereby providing Japan with its casus belli. With their backs against the wall, outnumbered 7-to-1, large numbers of samurai surrendered, but for many others the very idea was anathema. "Card Game for 2 players. On a muddy field outside Kagoshima on September 25, 1877, the feudal system that had dominated Japan for 700 years died, not with a whimper but with a defiant roar. He took Japan from being a backwards feudal society to being a strong empire under his full control. The only shelters were shallow holes scraped in the hillside. Medical supplies consisted of one carpenter’s saw for amputations and a few rags for bandages. The flashpoint for what became known as the Satsuma Rebellion came when imperial troops seized the military supplies from the arsenal at Kagoshima, to prevent them falling into the hands of any rebels. On January 30, 1877, a government ship arrived in Kagoshima and, without explanation, began removing munitions. The flashpoint for what became known as the Satsuma Rebellion came when imperial troops seized the military supplies from the arsenal at Kagoshima, to prevent them falling into the hands of any rebels. Fighting to preserve the old order, the samurai had gone down in bloody defeat to modern weapons wielded by the lower-class soldiers they despised. After two days of fruitless attack, however, their ardor began to wane. They resorted to digging up unexploded Satsuma ordinance and refiring it. However, the imperial government gradually sent more than 45,000 reinforcements to relieve Kumamoto, finally driving the Satsuma army away with heavy casualties. This costly defeat put Saigo on the defensive for the remainder of the rebellion. At that time, the relief force was then only a few miles away. Theme: The Satsuma Rebellion in Japan in 1877. Within the han (a term meaning both ‘province’ and ‘clan’), society was a rigidly controlled pyramid, with the peasant at the bottom. At that point, Beppu and the last of the samurai drew their swords and plunged downhill toward the enemy positions until the last of them was mowed down. There was little shooting, either due to lack of ammunition or from inclination. After the troops landed, they seized the arsenals and took the provincial governor into custody. He didn't necessarily think he could be compromised but one could never be too careful. The last, and by far the greatest, revolt came in Satsuma in 1877. Dr. Kallie Szczepanski is a history teacher specializing in Asian history and culture. They halted, facing the imperials all day. Small clashes and skirmishes took place on February 21, forcing the imperial advance guards to withdraw inside Kumamoto. Tag: Satsuma Rebellion Tani Tateki – Kumamoto Castle defender during the Seinan War. Master these negotiation skills to succeed at work (and beyond) The Last Samurai - Best Clips & Soundtracks The last shizoku revolt, the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, was by far the greatest. The greatest threat to the Meiji government was also the last of a series of civil wars that had raged through Japan for 1,500 years. The government troops began arriving soon after, and once again the rebels were surrounded. Commanded by Saigō Takamori, the Satsuma army fought unrelentingly for seven months. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, A Long History of Japanese Women Warriors, Biography of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 16th Century Unifier of Japan, Overview of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan, Bushido: The Ancient Code of the Samurai Warrior, Russo-Japanese War: Admiral Togo Heihachiro, J.D., University of Washington School of Law, B.A., History, Western Washington University. . Having been outfought and outmaneuvered so often in the past, however, he was determined to leave nothing to chance. Nor was popular support for the rebels limited to monetary matters. A servant hid the head to keep it from falling into enemy hands. ... in the middle of Satsuma who was the center of the rebellion, wasn't a good idea at all. Whatever Saigo’s intentions, Tani had no intention of letting his army pass. Though contested by rebels, the imperial forces landed with nominal losses, then pushed north to the city of Miyanohara, reaching it on the 19th. Outraged by these high-handed tactics, 50 students attacked the Somuta arsenal and tried to carry off arms. General Tani, facing the supply problem, decided to dispatch a sortie in hopes of linking up with the relief force. Yates, Charles L. "Saigo Takamori in the Emergence of Meiji Japan." E.M. [Edward Morgan] Forster, English novelist (A Passage to India, A Room With a View). He opposed taking an armed bodyguard with him, preferring to rely on his rank as a marshal of the imperial army for his protection. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. Most of the fighting was now confined to sniping and isolated clashes between rival swordsmen. Yamagata, who had no idea in which direction Saigo had gone, sent out patrols in all directions. Down to about 3,000 men, the Satsuma forces made a stand on Mount Enodake. Faced with 21,000 imperial army troops, the majority of the rebels ended up committing seppuku (surrendering by suicide). The survivors were out of ammunition, so had to rely on their swords. Just about 400 or 500 of the Satsuma samurai escaped the mountain slope on August 19, including Saigo Takamori. They retreated once more to Mount Shiroyama, which stands above the city of Kagoshima, where the rebellion began seven months earlier. After seven days and a march of 100 miles through rugged wastes, the samurai limped into Hitoyoshi. The influential Satsuma samurai, Saigo Takamori, was away at the time and had no knowledge of these events, but hurried home when he heard the news. Initially he was furious about the junior samurais' actions. Located on the southern tip of Kyushu Island, more than 800 miles south of Tokyo, the Satsuma domain had existed and governed itself for centuries with very little interference from the central government. During the latter years of the Tokugawa shogunate, just prior to the Meiji Restoration, the Satsuma clan began to invest heavily in armaments, building a new shipyard at Kagoshima, two weapons factories, and three ammunition depots. Officially, the Meiji Emperor's government had authority over those facilities after 1871, but Satsuma officials actually retained control of them. The latter posthumously withdrew the brand of traitor from his name and made his son a marquess. Sept. 5, 2020. The modernization of the country meant the abolition of the privileged social status of the samurai class, and had undermined their financial position. On February 17, Saigo paid his respects at the gate of the Shimayu clan, his hereditary overlords. This influential clan was headed by the Shimazu family, which had been founded by Shimazu Tadahisa, Satsuma Rebellion of 1877 - Aftermath The suppression of the rebels involved much time and a great array of forces. The police contingent was no mean addition to the garrison, for Japanese policemen were a paramilitary force recruited from the samurai class, comparable to the French gendarmerie or Italian carabinieri. Ravina, Mark. During the next three days, more than 1,000 students raided the naval yards and the Iso arsenal, stealing 84,000 rounds of ammunition. This civil war pitted a well-trained samurai army commanded by Saiga Takamoril and They were soon surrounded. Saigo read the letter carefully. Deprived of supplies from home, rebel forces lived on food purchased from the local peasants with paper promissory notes, bearing the stamp of the Satsuma commander. It now had more than 20,000 men, compared to the rebels’ 8,000. At 6 that morning, the 40 remaining warriors of the last traditional samurai army in Japanese history rose from their foxholes, drew their swords and charged into the guns of the 30,000-man-strong imperial army. The officer in charge of removing the arms lodged a formal protest with the provincial government. This rebellion was led by the restoration hero Saigō Takamori and lasted six months. was a revolt of Satsuma ex-samurai against the Meiji government from January 29 to September 24, 1877, 9 years into the Meiji Era.It was the last, and the most serious, of a series of armed uprisings against the new government. A samurai from Chosu who had studied military science in Europe and headed the War Ministry in 1870, Yamagata was an old friend of Saigo’s. Later honored by a statue in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, Saigo is still popularly regarded as a heroic figure: the last of the noble samurai. The imperial forces linked up with the castle garrison the next day, ending 54 days of siege. Rather than risk desertions or defections, Tani decided to stand on the defensive. In late August, Imperial forces led by General Yamagata Aritomo surrounded the rebels on Mount Enodake. For the unemployed samurai, such edicts piled degrading insult upon injury. With 30,000 troops at his disposal, Yamagata outnumbered Saigo’s forces 60-to-1. Rebellions broke out in Satsuma, Hizen, and Tosa. The authenticity of that letter is doubtful, since its harsh tone was calculated to incite determined resistance. However, a government garrison at Kumamoto Castle stood in the Satsuma rebels' path, manned by about 3,800 soldiers and 600 police under Major General Tani Tateki. With a smaller force, and unsure about the loyalty of his Kyushu-native troops, Tani decided to stay inside the castle rather than venture out to face Saigo's army. Early on February 22, the Satsuma attack began. Blog. The rebellion was quickly crushed, and Eto was beheaded. 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