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. The result transformed the government’s concerns about rebellion into a self-fulfilling prophesy. After the troops landed, they seized the arsenals and took the provincial governor into custody. At that time, the relief force was then only a few miles away. Saigō Takamori was labeled as a tragic hero by the people and on February 22, 1889, Emperor Meijipardoned Saigō posthumously. He took Japan from being a backwards feudal society to being a strong empire under his full control. Many of the Satsuma commanders advocated a fight to the death where they stood, but Saigo vetoed the plan. 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. Concentrating on one point of the encirclement, they were able to cut their way free. The modern Japanese army had passed its first test and would soon develop into a force that would terrorize Asia and briefly humble the Western forces of Russia, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and the United States. Too much blood had been spilled, but honor forbade surrender. 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. Reorganizing his army into nine companies, he retreated to the east. The students then seized the arms factories, hired more workers and went into full production. The shortage of ammunition was so severe that rationing was necessary and the artillerists were reduced to firing unexploded Satsuma shells back at the besiegers. What caused the Satsuma Rebellion? 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. Small clashes and skirmishes took place on February 21, forcing the imperial advance guards to withdraw inside Kumamoto. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. The rebellion was quickly crushed, and Eto was beheaded. Early in 1877 the rebellion broke out. 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. The last, and by far the greatest, revolt came in Satsuma in 1877. That force, comprising two infantry brigades and 1,200 policemen, boarded ship at Nagasaki on March 17 and sailed to Yatsushiro Bay. The Satsuma rebellion was a resist from the Meiji government and modern changes that took place in 1877. Buck, James H. "The Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. They halted, facing the imperials all day. The deed was done, however, and he later congratulated his students. 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. The Satsuma Rebellion (西南戦争, Seinan Sensō (Southwestern War)?) E.M. [Edward Morgan] Forster, English novelist (A Passage to India, A Room With a View). Written only a year or so after the event it does allow for contemporary opinion. Satsuma Rebellion of 1877 - Combat. 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. Suddenly, 2 million samurai found themselves ineligible for careers that had once been theirs alone. How to engage your audience in any online presentation; Sept. 2, 2020. French newsmagazine Le Monde Illustré / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain. Calling his closest friends to his dugout, Saigo spent his last night in a sake party. by Alon Adika. This game covers the last battle around Meiji-Ishin. Abandoning their sick and wounded, the remnants of his army climbed to the misty summit of Mount Enodake, where the imperial cordon was weakest. Whether intentionally or not, Saigo was forging the nucleus for a rebellion. Saigo was still trying to avoid war. Sept. 5, 2020. With their backs against the wall, outnumbered 7-to-1, large numbers of samurai surrendered, but for many others the very idea was anathema. 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. Instruction at the schools centered on the Chinese classics, although French and English were also taught. Between February 3 and 7, the Satsuma provincial government arrested 58 government agents. Several weeks of guerrilla fighting followed as the government forces mopped up small pockets of samurai scattered throughout the Kyushu hills. A servant hid the head to keep it from falling into enemy hands. 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. A special force was ordered to seize the area between a private school and Somuta, and occupy Iwasakiguchi, thereby splitting Shiroyama in half. 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. He didn't necessarily think he could be compromised but one could never be too careful. I feel confident in removing the romantic image of protecting the samurai and fighting corruption, as he was instrumental in modernizing Japan's military. 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. The map covers the whole Kyushu island and uses point to point system. Retreating before the government troops, the samurai next tried to make a stand at Nobeoka, a coastal city north of Miyakonojo. Dr. Kallie Szczepanski is a history teacher specializing in Asian history and culture. 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. 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. That system began to come apart in 1854, when U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry sailed into Kagoshima Harbor and invited Japan to join the modern world — at gunpoint. Losing blood rapidly, he selected a suitable spot to die. 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. Satsuma Rebellion of 1877 - Aftermath The suppression of the rebels involved much time and a great array of forces. The authenticity of that letter is doubtful, since its harsh tone was calculated to incite determined resistance. In August 1871, the daimyo lost their old domains — for which they were given compensatory pensions — and the old provinces were replaced with prefectures. After seven days and a march of 100 miles through rugged wastes, the samurai limped into Hitoyoshi. 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. Matters had gone beyond Saigo’s control, however, since an advance body of rebellious samurai had already departed for Tokyo without his knowledge. 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. Word of the shigakkos‘ martial nature was greeted with considerable alarm in Tokyo. The government troops began arriving soon after, and once again the rebels were surrounded. 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. 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. Lacking any definite strategy, the rebels dug in to await the next government offensive. The glue that held that structure together was the military caste that served the daimyo: the samurai. -The Satsuma rebellion was a rebellion of samurai against the new imperial government. The Satsuma Rebellion (Seinan Sensō 西南戦争, 'Southwestern War') was a revolt of the Satsuma clan samurai against the Imperial Japanese Army. It is interesting to note, however, that the Japanese police shunned the use of firearms, preferring to rely on their swords and martial arts skills. 4, Sophia University, JSTOR, 1973. Rebellions broke out in Satsuma, Hizen, and Tosa. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. 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. The Satsuma Rebellion (西南戦争, Seinan Sensō, "Southwestern War") was a revolt of disaffected samurai against the new imperial government, nine years into the Meiji Era.Its name comes from Satsuma Domain, which had been influential in the Restoration and became home to unemployed samurai after military reforms rendered their status obsolete. 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. In 1872, the imperial army was reorganized as a force of 46,000 conscripts from every social class. 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. At the height of the battle, Saigo wrote a private letter to Prince Arisugawa, restating his reasons for going to Tokyo. My friend William Baerg is a contributor for the Kumamoto International Facebook page and has nicely agreed for me to post an article on my blog. 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. 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. 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. After two days of fruitless attack, however, their ardor began to wane. By February 21, he had 3,800 soldiers and 600 policemen at his disposal. The Meiji Era controlled most of Japan, except for a small area in the southwestern part of Japan, which was the Satsuma. While 3,000 men dug into the rock-hard icy ground around the castle and tried to starve the garrison out, a rebel detachment sent to block the passes north of town soon encountered the forward elements of the relief force. It now had more than 20,000 men, compared to the rebels’ 8,000. This rebellion was led by the restoration hero Saigō Takamori and lasted six months. They faced each other along a 61¼2-mile front from Tabaruzuka southwest to Ariake Bay. If a unit retreated with enemy troops in pursuit, the neighboring units were to fire into the area indiscriminately, killing their own men if necessary. The Last Samurai - Best Clips & Soundtracks The last shizoku revolt, the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, was by far the greatest. On February 17, Saigo paid his respects at the gate of the Shimayu clan, his hereditary overlords. Gathering a few pieces of artillery from the private schools and some food from the local people, they took possession of Shiroyama (‘castle mountain’). Two of Saigo’s officers approached the imperial positions under a white flag in the hope of finding a way to save him. A final attack was planned for April 14, but before it could be carried out, Saigo disengaged and his men took up new positions on high ground east of Kumamoto. Rather than risk desertions or defections, Tani decided to stand on the defensive. There is, however, a second letter authenticated as being in Saigo’s hand, which politely informed Tani that he and his army would soon be passing through Kumamoto on a peaceful mission, asking that measures be taken to prevent alarming the population. The Satsuma Rebellion was a rebellion by Samurai who served the Satsuma clan. ... in the middle of Satsuma who was the center of the rebellion, wasn't a good idea at all. The imperial forces linked up with the castle garrison the next day, ending 54 days of siege. The rebellion also effectively ended the samurai class, as the new Imperial Japanese Army built of conscripts without regard to social class had proven itself in battle. For his war chest, Saigo took only 25,000 yen, sufficient to buy supplies for a month. 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. In comparison, Saigo’s force was reduced to melting down metal statuettes that local civilians smuggled in, and casting the metal into bullets. Ironically, this provoked open conflict, although with the elimination of samurai rice stipends in 1877, tensions were already extremely high." Travel Aug 16, 2014. Although reinforced, the imperial army had suffered so much from the fighting that it was forced to suspend operations for several weeks in order to regroup. The ver… As the two sides were well dug in, a fierce war of position developed in which neither side could gain an advantage. Having been outfought and outmaneuvered so often in the past, however, he was determined to leave nothing to chance. 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