Battle of Kotesashi, 23 June 1333

The battle of Kotesashi (23 June 1333) was the first battle in the campaign that led to the capture of Kamakura and the final fall of the Kamakura Shogunate (Genko War, 1331-33). It was an inconclusive battle, and the fighting resuming on the following day.

Nitta Yoshisada had decided to join the Imperial cause after he was called to take part in the Shogunate's siege of Chihaya. He received an Imperial mandate. He feigned illness and returned home, where he began to raise an army. His uprising was triggered by the arrival of tax gathers at his estates. He raised his banner on the 8th day of the 5th month (20 June 1333) at the shrine at Ikushina, and then began a march south towards the Shogunate's capital at Kamakura, gathering supporters as he went. According to the Taiheiki his army was 200,000 strong by the time it reached the Iruma River.

The Shogunate responded by sending one army east to gather reinforcements, while a second force of 60,000 men was sent north to try and block Yoshisada at the Iruma River. This army was commanded by the grand marshal Sakurada Sadakuni, supported by Nagasaki Takashige and Nagasaki Saemon.

The Shogunate army failed to prevent the rebels from crossing the Iruma River. On the 11th day of the 5th month (23 June 1333) they reached Kotesashi Moor (modern Tokorozawa), a few miles south of the river and halted, possibly because the rebel army was bigger than they had expected.

This gave Yoshisada's men a chance to cross the river unopposed. The battle began with an exchange of archery. Yoshisada's men sent 100 archers forward, and the Bakufu forces responded with 200 archers, followed by an attack by 1,000 cavalry. Yoshisada responded with 2,000 cavalry, and this escalated into a full battle. According to the Taiheiki the two sides clashed more than thirty times during the day.

At nightfall the fighting ended. Yoshisada's men, who had lost 300 dead, withdrew to the Iruma River. The Bakufu army, which had lost 500 dead, retreated south to the Kume River. Both sides then prepared to resume battle on the next day. The resulting battle of Kumegawa (24 June 1333) was a more decisive affair and resulting in a victory for Yoshisada.

Taiheiki: A Chronicle of Medieval Japan, trans. Helen Craig McCullough. A modern English translation of the first twelve chapters of the Taiheiki, covering the period of the Genko War, a civil war that saw the Emperor Go-Daigo briefly overthrow the Shogunate and restore direct Imperial rule.
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A History of Japan, 1334-1615, Sir George Sansom. A classic history of Japan, covering the period from the fall of the Kamakura Shogunate in the 1330s to the battle of Sekigahara of 1600 and the end of the civil wars in 1615. A little dated now, but it still provides an excellent narrative history of this period, with more detail on the military events than in most more modern works.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 November 2012), Battle of Kotesashi, 23 June 1333 ,

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