Sakite-gumi (先手組)

Sakite-gumi was one of military systems in the Edo bakufu. It belonged to wakadoshiyori (junior councilor) in personnel system and played a role in maintaining the security.

Sakite meant van or spearhead, and served as ashigaru-tai (foot soldier units) of the spearhead of TOKUGAWA clan in battles. In the early Edo period, it participated in battles as a troop which organized yumi-ashigaru (foot soldiers fighting with bow) and teppo-ashigaru (foot soldiers fighting with firearms).

However, after the Edo period began there had been few battles. Therefore, it usually served as a guard placed for each gate around the Edo-jo Castle, a guard of shogun when going out, maintenance of security of the Edo castle town, and so forth.

The number of groups fluctuated with time. For example, it had thirty groups in total, consisting of about ten groups of the Yumi (archery) troop and about twenty groups of matchlock infantry, with each group being stationed with one kumigashira (a head of the group), ten yoriki (police sergeants), and thirty to fifty doshin (police constables).

While Machi-yoriki and Machi-doshin were the subordinate of machi-bugyo (town magistrate) who were civil officers to maintain the public security of the Edo castle town, Kumi-yoriki and Kumi-doshin were under the control of the sakite-gumi, which was bankata (military officers), and regulated the Edo castle town so roughly that they were said to be feared by the Edo people.

The chief of hitsuke-tozoku-aratame-kata (literally, "investigative division for arson and organized robbery) was served by the leader of the sakite-gumi additionally as a temporary extra work.

[Original Japanese]