The Battle of Nagashino (長篠の戦い)
The Battle of Nagashino is a battle fought on June 29, 1575 between the Nobunaga ODA - Ieyasu TOKUGAWA allied forces of 38,000 soldiers and the Katsuyori TAKEDA forces of 15,000 men over Nagashino-jo Castle in Mikawa Province (current Nagashino, Shinshiro City, Aichi Prefecture). It is also referred to as the Battle of Shitaragahara as it was fought in Shitaragahara and Arumihara (according to "Hankanpu" (Genealogy of the Protectors of the Shogunate) and "Shinchoko-ki" (The Biography of Nobunaga ODA)).
A standard theory is that Takeda's cavalry which was regarded as the most powerful at that time was overwhelmingly defeated by the Oda forces which were equipped with 3,000 then state-of-art teppo (matchlock guns), and which employed a new tactics of "sandan-uchi" (in which the gunners were arranged in three lines). However, there are different opinions based on different perspectives.
Up until the Start of the Battle
After the death of Shingen TAKEDA, in August 1573, Sadamasa OKUDAIRA (later known as Nobumasa OKUDAIRA), who was a vassal of the Takeda family, switched to the TOKUGAWA side with his all family members and retainers, following his father Sadayoshi OKUDAIRA who made the bold decision. Ieyasu stationed Sadamasa in Nagashino-jo Castle, which he had just won from the Takeda family (which means that he placed Sadamasa in the battle front against Takeda). Two years later, in April 1575, Katsuyori TAKEDA led a large army of allegedly 15,000 men to lay siege on the castle.
Nagashino-jo Castle Siege Battle
As opposed to Takeda's large army, Nagashino-jo Castle had a small army of only 500 soldiers. Equipped with 200 teppo and demi-cannons, it fiercely resisted and tormented the Takeda forces. However, after the army provisions storeroom was destroyed, they were pushed into a desperate situation where the castle would have fallen if reinforcements had not arrived within a few days. Suneemon TORII, a vassal of Sadamasa, secretly escaped from the castle, and asked Ieyasu in Okazaki-jo Castle to send reinforcements. Ieyasu had asked the Oda family to deliver the reinforcements in advance. Leaving Gifu with 30,000 soldiers on July 1 Nobunaga was already in Okazaki Castle.
Torii immediately headed for Nagashino-jo Castle to inform that reinforcements would come, but he was captured by the Takeda army. Takeda offered to save his life if he falsely told the soldiers in the castle that 'reinforcements would not come' to lower their morale, and Torii agreed. There is an episode, however, that Torii was executed as he had a last minute change of heart to say, 'reinforcements will come in a few days,' uplifting the morale of the soldiers in the castle.
The Arrival of Nobunaga's Army Corps
Nobunaga's army of 3,000 soldiers and Ieyasu's army with 8,000 soldiers arrived at Shitaragahara in front of Nagashino-jo Castle. Although the 'hara' of Shitaragahara means a plain, Shitaragahara was a hilly place along the river and did not provide a visibility enough to overlook the entire enemy camp. Nobunaga nevertheless chose Shitaragahara as the battle field, and proceeded to construct a defense camp, using the stream (Rengo-gawa River) as moat. This was an unusual field fornication in then Japan as the river banks were cut to create steep escarpments and a stockade was erected on the triple mound. In other words, Nobunaga's military strategy was to protect the almost defenceless teppo units that functioned as his main force in the battle against the Takeda cavalry.
Meanwhile, the Takeda force held a war council a soon as they heard of the arrival of Nobunaga. Knowing Nobunaga's participation in the battle, Takeda's senior vassals since the time of Shingen, especially Masakage YAMAGATA, Nobuharu BABA, and Masatoyo NAITO who were among the so-called big four of the Takeda clan advised Katsuyori to withdraw from the war. Katsuyori however decided to go ahead with the battle. Deploying 3,000 men around the castle to keep the enemy in check, he led the remaining 12,000 to Shitaragahara. The old senior vassals from the time of Shingen, who anticipating a defeat, were resigned to die, got together to have farewell drinks.
Nobunaga spread the rumor that his army was weak in defiance of his usual tactics in which he made his army appear stronger than it was with a show of bravado. He partly intended to let the enemy's guard down. Keeping in mind his strategy in which the teppo units would play a central role, he also attempted to decoy Takeda's cavalry into it.
The Battle on Mt. Tobigasu
During the night of July 18, the great allied forces, comprising the Migashimikawa army under Tadatsugu SAKAI, the yoriki (assistants to commanders) including Nagachika KANAMORI of the Oda force, and approximately 3,000 (or 4,000 men according to "The Shinchoko-ki") with 500 teppo, crossed Toyo-gawa River in secret. Passing through ridges from the south, they sneaked around to the back of Takeda's army that remained around Nagashino-jo Castle. The following day, at dawn, they suddenly attacked the fort on Mt. Tobigasu, the keystone of the besiege on the castle, from behind. Erected to lay siege on and observe the castle, the fort consisted of a main fort and four other sub-forts of Nakayama, Mt. Kuma, Ubagafutokoro and Kimigafushidoko. They were all taken by the successful surprise attack. Thus, the ODA-TOKUGAWA forces succeeded in saving Nagashino-jo Castle, which was their primary goal. Reinforced by Okudaira's army that had taken refuge in the castle, Sakai's commando continued to assail the enemy and defeated Takeda's troops stationed in Ariake-mura Village. It succeeded in nearly blocking the escape route of Takeda's main body which had advanced to Shitaragahara.
In the Battle on Mt. Tobigasu the Takeda army lost distinguished busho (Japanese military commanders), including Nobuzane KAWAKUBO the Commander-in-Chief, Moritomo SAEGUSA, Sadanari GOMI, Narishige WADA, Muneyasu NAWA and, Suketomo IIO. The remnants of Takeda's defeated army retreated across Toyo-gawa River, seeking to join the main body. However, fiercely pursued by the Sakai commando, Masazumi KOSAKA and others were killed in Ariake-mura Village west of Nagashino-jo Castle. Thus the Sakai commando overwhelmed the Takeda force in the battle. It however lost Koretada MATSUDAIRA of the Fukozu Matsudaira family on the Tokugawa side who led the vanguard too deep into the enemy lines, and who was fought back and struck down by Masayuki OYAMADA in retreat.
Nobunaga initially rejected this operation outright when Tadatsugu SAKAI proposed it at the war council during the night of July 18. Yet as soon as the war council was over, he secretly called out and ordered Sakai to carry out the operation. He did not adopt the operation at the war council as he was afraid of an intelligence activity by the Takeda force.
The Battle of Shitaragahara
On the early morning of July 19 when the course of the battle on Mt. Tobigasu was almost decided, the Takeda army, afraid of losing its escape route, made a move to start a battle. The battle between the Oda-Tokugawa allied forces with 38,000 soldiers and the Takeda army with 12,000 soldiers continued until early afternoon (for approximately eight hours). It resulted in the victory of the Oda-Tokugawa allied forces, with nearly 6,000 casualties. On the other hand, Takeda's causalities were 12,000 (including those in the battle on Mt. Tobigasu). The war victims of the Oda-Tokugawa allied forces comprised nameless foot soldiers (especially those of the Oda force who were not territorial people but mercenaries). In contrast, those of the Takeda forces included Yamagata, Naito and Baba who were among the big four of Takeda, besides Masatane HARA, Moritane HARA, Nobutsuna SANADA, Masateru SANADA, Masatsugu TSUCHIYA, Naonori TSUCHIYA, Kageshige ANNAKA, Nobunaga MOCHIZUKI, Shigetsugu YONEKURA. The Takeda forces suffered serious damage.
Katsuyori was guarded by only a few hundreds hatamoto (banner men), and withdrew to Takato-jo Castle. Reconciling with Kenshin UESUGI, he united with Masanobu TAKASAKA who led Uesugi's reinforcements of 10,000 men and withdrew to Kai.
A standard and well-known explanation is that Takeda's cavalry, known as the most powerful, was defeated by the Oda-Tokugawa allied forces which employed as many as 3,000 teppo in the "sandan-uchi" tactics in which the gunners were arranged in three lines to compensate for the teppo's slow reloading. The employment of 3,000 teppo and the sandan-uchi tactics based on problematic historical sources has been rejected by most scholars. (For more information see the section" Controversies over and Details of the Battle of Nagashino"). Yet the fact remains that the then largest teppo units were deployed and the stockade was instrumental in warding off Takeda's cavalry.
The battle enabled Oda and Tokugawa to suppress the Takeda family who had been a constant source of worry. The Oda family expanded its power and intensified pressure on Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple that had been yet another source of worry. Holding total control of Mikawa, the Tokugawa family succeeded in getting back both Futamata-jo Castle and Takatenjin-jo Castle.
The Takeda family who had lost many excellent officers and soldiers was forced to reorganize itself under Katsuyori but they failed. It also failed in the diplomatic negotiations with the families of Uesugi and Hojo. Rapidly declining thereafter, it was brought to an end in 1582.
Sadamasa OKUDAIRA, lord of Nagashino Castle was renamed 'Nobumasa" as he was granted "henki" (one of the characters used in the superior's name) by Nobunaga for his military achievements (yet as had been previously agreed). He was given in marriage Ieyasu's eldest daughter Kamehime (Seitokuin), who became his lawful wife. Furthermore, he was given a certificate that guaranteed both his family members and senior vassals the hereditary ownership of lands. The Okudaira-Matsudaira family whose progenitor was Sadamasa was to flourish up to the Meiji period. Suneemon TORII who was executed by Takeda earned his place in history as a loyal subject and his descendants were well treated by the Okudaira-Matsudaira family.
The Oda-Tokugawa Allied Forces
The Main Body in the Battle of Shitaragahara
The Oda Army
Nobunaga ODA, Nobutada ODA, Hidetaka KAWAJIRI, Katsuie SHIBATA, Nagahide NIWA, Hideyoshi HASHIBA, Nobumori SAKUMA, Kazumasu TAKIGAWA, Narimasa SASSA, Toshiie MAEDA, Nobumoto MIZUNO (also Mitsuhide AKECHI according to a theory), and Masanari NONOMURA.
The Tokugawa Army
Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, Nobuyasu MATSUDAIRA, Kazumasa ISHIKAWA, Tadakatsu HONDA, Yasumasa SAKAKIBARA, Mototada TORII, Tadayo OKUBO, Tadasuke OKUBO, Tadataka OKUBO, Kiyohide TAKAGI, Masakazu NARUSE (busho in the Sengoku period), Sadayoshi KUSAKABE.
Mt. Tobigasu Attack Units
The Oda Army
The Tokugawa Army
Tadatsugu SAKAI, Yasutada MATSUDAIRA, Koretada MATSUDAIRA, Ietada MATSUDAIRA, Kiyomune MATSUDAIRA, Hirotaka HONDA, Sadayoshi OKUDAIRA, Sadamitsu SUGANUMA, Iekazu SAIGO, Hidemochi KONDO, and Sadamichi SHITARA (who was on standby in Toida)
The Besieged Army in Nagashino Castle
Nobumasa OKUDAIRA, Kagetada MATSUDAIRA
The Takeda Army
The Main Body in the Battle of Shitaragahara
Katsuyori TAKEDA, Nobukado TAKEDA, Nobushige OYAMADA, Nobutoyo TAKEDA (the Kai-Takeda clan), Nobukimi ANAYAMA, Nobunaga MOCHIZUKI, Nobuharu BABA, Masakage YAMAGATA, Masatoyo NAITO, Masatane HARA, Nobutsuna SANADA, Masateru SANADA, Matsusuke ATOBE, Masatsugu TSUCHIYA, Naonori TSUCHIYA, Yasukage YOKOTA, Nobusada OBATA, Nobuyasu AMARI
Nagashino-jo Castle-Lookout Units
Garrisons at the Mt. Tobigasu Fort and others (across the river in the south of the castle)
Nobuzane KAWAKUBO, Moritomo SAEGUSA, Muneyasu NAWA, Sukehito IIO, Takashige GOMI
Garrisons in Ariake-mura Village (across the river in the west of the castle)
Masayuki OYAMADA, Masazumi KOSAKA, Kanzo YAMAMOTO
Casus Belli of Each Side
Katsuyori TAKEDA decided to face the battle, ignoring his grand vassals who advised him 'to withdraw.'
Considering the fact that the Takeda force was vastly outnumbered by the enemy force and that Nagashino Castle was indestructible, their advice 'to withdraw' was more than reasonable. According to "Koyo Gunkan" (a record of the military exploits of the Takeda family), Matsusuke ATOBE and Mitsutaka NAGASAKA who were preferentially treated by Katsuyori (i.e., "Kunshin no Kan" or dishonest subjects toward their master) advised him to go to war so the battle was decided. However, this theory is not so credible in that Nagasaka almost certainly did not participate in the battle and the historical source does not do justice to the three vassals. Some scholars have even discredited the surmise that the old senior vassals were opposed to the battle (which is essentially based on "Koyo Gunkan").
Others have proposed that having overwhelmingly won the Battle of Takatenjin-jo Castle in the previous year, Katsuyori became so confident as to convince himself of a victory in the next battle. Still others have suggested that he intended to reverse his strategy at the Battle of Kawanakajima as he was aware that Tadatsugu SAKAI's detachment force of 3,000 men made a detour to Mt. Tobigasu.
The political landscape at the time of Shingen was such that the Oda family extended its power as far as the Kinki region, covering Owari, Mino, Minami Omi, Kita Ise, Yamashiro. The Oda family could not be rivalled by any single power. Shingen therefore planned to confront Nobunaga in either the Mikawa-Owari area or Mino after he limited Nobunaga's forces in the Kinki region by deploying the troops of Nagamasa AZAI and Yoshikage ASAKURA as well as the followers of the Ikko sect of Hongan-ji Temple, so that Nobunaga would have a limited force to move to the east (the anti-Nobunaga network). Katsuyori, who took over the family from Shingen, essentially followed his strategy. When Katsuyori came to power, however, the powerful clans of Azai and Asakura had been destroyed a year before the Battle and the followers of the Ikko sect in Nagashima had been already defeated. What was left in the network were only the Takeda family and Hongan-ji Temple. Considering the situation in which the Oda family expanded its power so rapidly that the power gap between it and the Takeda family was widening each day, the latter in any case had to deal a decisive blow to the former in a major battle as soon as possible.
Conversely, Nobunaga did not necessarily have to fight with Katsuyori at this point in history, or rather he would have been better off had he not confronted the Takeda clan directly, so that he would have gained strategic advantage over time. He did his duty to the Tokugawa clan by leading his troops (as the rear guard) (although he at least should have made the Takeda force retreat before abandoning the battle after the first battle at Takatenjin-jo Castle). What he intended to achieve in the Battle of Nagashino was, in effect, not to defeat Takeda but to make him withdraw from Nagashino. Accordingly, he did not mind fighting with Katsuryori insofar as he did not lose the battle. It was logical that he built the field fortification where his army was based and deployed a large number of gunners, foreseeing the advancement of the Takeda force.
Seeking to acquire Totomi Province in future, the Tokugawa family was in desperate need of the battle in which to defeat the Takeda family while Oda's powerful reinforcements were still available. (It was the Tokugawa side that proposed an assault on the fort of Mt. Tobigasu). After the assault, the Tokugawas in fact controlled the entire province of Mikawa where it had fought skirmishes with the Takeda family for many years, and successfully went on the offensive from then on.
The Number of Soldiers and Damages in Each Army
A standard theory is that the Oda-Tokugawa allied forces comprised 38,000 men (of which 3,000 took part in the raid on Mt. Tobigasu), whereas the Takeda force was made up with 15,000 (of which 3,000 were left on Mt. Tobigasu) although there are other theses.
Mitsutoshi TAKAYANAGAI mentions in "The Battle of Nagashino" that the Oda force had 12,000 to 13,000, Tokugawa 4,000 to 5,000 and Takeda 8,000 to 10,000, of whom 6,000 to 7,000 were deployed in Shitaragahara. He agrees with the standard theory in terms of the size of the allied forces which was two and a half to three times as large as that of the Takeda force. One of the reasons for the acceptance of the figures is the geographical narrowness of Shitaragahara. Besides estimating Takeda's casualties to be 1,000 and those of the allied forces 600 is more realistic than making an estimate of 10,000 to 12,000 and 6,000, respectively (see below).
The Takeda family then had a little over one million koku. It has been assumed that the maximum number of soldiers it could deploy was about 30,000 (which of course presupposes an ideal circumstance). Even if we follow the standard theory based on the Takeda clan's westward operation in which they apparently deployed 30,000 men, this figure cannot be taken as the maximum number of soldiers they mobilized in the Battle of Nagashino. For they had to divide their forces to deal with the Uesugi clan. (They seem to have deployed 10,000 men to defend their territory against the Uesugi force). The kokujin (provincial warriors) refused to serve on account of financial difficulties. The Takeda clan also had to deploy their men to assault Nagashino Castle and to fight with the Tokugawa clan. (It is estimated that they mobilized as many as 15,000 men). These are oft-repeated reasons for the unlikely number of 30,000. The last reason in particular implies that the Takeda clan did not consider a war with the Oda clan. This is however unlikely because they had to decide whether they would retreat or raid Nagashino Castle when Nobunaga set off with his troops (from Gifu on July 1 and left Ushikubo in Mikawa for Shitaragahara on July 5).
The standard number of the dead (especially Takeda's 12,000) is also problematic.
The matchlock gun can kill or injure a target over a distance of 60 meters with effective range of about 90 meters. It is unlikely that a total of about 20,000 men were killed during the period between the 8-hour battle and the subsequent one. The Takeda force in particular had an extraordinary death rate even if we take the standard number of 15,000. (Typically, a squad is devastated if its half is injured). It would have taken Katsuyori a while to move his troops as he had to reorganize the injured remnants who were presumably as many as the dead. Yet a few months later he mobilized his troops. This would disapprove of the 12,000 deaths among the Takeda force. "Tamonin-nikki Diary," completed around that time, mentions that 'about a thousand Kai people were killed ' in the battle, which the author heard from others. This led some to propose that the number of the dead for the Takeda force was about 1,000. (The total number of the dead may increase if 'the people' in the citation is taken as kokujin-class warriors).
"Kanemi YOSHIDA" states that 'a few thousand horsemen were killed.'
Oda's 3,000 Teppo and Sandan-uchi
What is remarkable about the Battle of Nagashino is that the Oda family famously prepared 3,000 teppo, which was unusual at the time and employed a new tactics called 'sandan-uchi.'
The standard account of the 3,000 teppo is based on "Nobunagaki" (The Record of Nobunaga) by Hoan OZE and "Shinchoko-ki" (Biography of Nobunaga ODA) owned by the Ikeda family. The book by Hoan is of little credibility as a source. The Ikeda book, which is considered to be more reliable, also raises a question as to its reliability since the character of '三' (three) seems to have been added alongside 'a thousand teppo' in the main text. It is unclear whether the addition of 'three' was subsequently made when 'the 3,000 teppo' in Hoan's version became popular or it was made by the scribe who immediately realized the mistake. However, the character of '三' is written in the same size as kaeriten (return marks to help read Chinese literature in Japanese). This makes it unlikely that the scribe corrected the mistake on the spot.
"Shinchoko-ki" by Gyuichi OTA does not mention 3,000 teppo but it does mention that '千挺計' (about 1,000 teppo) were used in the main battle and '五百挺' (500 teppo) were used by the detachment force in the Battle on Mt. Tobigasu (making a total of about 1,500). However, it refers to 'the 1,000 teppo' supplied to the following five bugyo (military commissioners): Narimasa SASSA, Toshiie MAEDA, Masanari NONOMURA, Hidekatsu FUKUTOMI, and Naomasa BAN. It remains silent as to the number of teppo supplied to the other units. Just before this battle, Nobunaga moreover ordered Yusai HOSOKAWA and Junkei TSUTSUI who did not take part in the battle to provide teppo units for the battle. Hosokawa provided 100 gunners and Tsutsui supplied 50. It is likely that other busho also provided teppo units. This suggests that Ota did not capture the exact number of teppo, and 1,500 therefore is likely to be a minimum figure.
Let us consider how many teppo the Oda family could collect at the time. The Akechi family's military code, set forth six years after the battle, in 1581, stipulates that a person with 1,000 koku should provide 32 people for military service of whom 5 should be gunners. This rate cannot be taken at face value because only men of significantly high rank could have been obliged to provide for military service teppo which were expensive and rare at the time. However, the Oda family could have acquired a few thousand teppo, if we take the standard number of 30,000 men deployed by the family, and if we recall the historical fact that they ordered the non-participating busho to provide teppo.
Supposing, on the basis of this, that they used only 1,000 teppo as opposed to the standard figure, this is still a remarkable figure for the period. Let us further assume that the entire Takeda forces had 10,000 and several thousand men based on the standard theory. Now, putting aside Katsuyori's main body, let us divide the forces into nine units of which five (the armies of Baba, Naito, Yamagata, Sanada brothers and Tsuchiya) were killed and four (the armies of Anayama, Nobukado TAKEDA and Nobutoyo TAKEDA) retreated. It follows that each army would have had less than 2,000, making allowances for individual differences. Even if the Oda family had only 1,000 teppo, this figure can be regarded as significant in relation to the size of each army. (It is also necessary to take into account the teppo used by the Tokugawa family).
Sandan-uchi,' which appears in the last scene of the film "Kagemusha" (Body Double), is a famous tactics. However, it is questionable if such a tactics was in fact employed. "Shinchoko-ki" does not refer to a specific tactics, i.e., sandan-uchi although it mentions that five Teppo Bugyo (Commissioners) assumed command. The earliest description of the tactics appeared in popular fictions published in the Edo Period. This was described as a historical fact in a textbook by the Army in the Meiji period, so that 'sandan-uchi' became widely spread. (Published as The Military History of Imperial Japan, the text book is owned by libraries).
As has been mentioned, however, there is no doubt that Nobunaga deployed a large number of teppo in the battle. "Shinchoko-ki" contains the frightening description that 'when Takeda's cavalry surged, most of the soldiers were shot and disappeared in a moment,' which suggests the destructive power of the teppo.
More specifically, 'when the Takeda army led by Karo (chief retainer) Masakage YAMAGATA attacked the Oda side at the start of the Battle of Nagashino, the ashigaru (common foot soldiers) of the Oda army, none of whom stepped forward and who hid themselves, kept shooting the teppo.'
The Yamagata army were shot and retreated, followed by a second and a third army, most of whom were shot down by the teppo (a gist).'
However, it is still questionable whether Nobunaga's teppo units could really inflict as many casualties as the described number of soldiers and casualties on both sides. Yet an injured, if not dead, soldier had to be removed and if so, at least two people, of whom one was the injured whom the other removed, would have withdrawn from the front. (This still applies today). It is unclear how the tactics was employed. It would not have been impossible for single firing to do considerable damage to an army if the teppo units had been deployed reasonably intensively. Consequently, Nobunaga's teppo units could have easily weakened the Takeda forces without recourse to the tactics of sandan-uchi.
Reasons behind the Takeda army's Crushing Defeat
A standard explanation for the crushing defeat of Takeda's cavalry is that the stockade prevented it from exercising its ability to attack. Another explanation is that the Oda army's sandan-uchi which compensated for the teppo's slow reloading did greater damage to the Takeda forces which made intermittent attack, anticipating the delay in firing. Seeing the cavalry's forces considerably reduced, the Oda-Tokugawa allied forces leapt over the stockade and utterly destroyed the enemy. As has been mentioned in the section "The Oda Force's 3,000 teppo and Sandan Uchi," we do not know if the tactics was really employed. It is also unlikely that the cavalry stayed within range of the teppo for several hours from morning to early afternoon and was subject to constant gun attacks. (The matchlock gun's effective range is 50 to 100 meters). In any case the standard explanation is untenable as "Shinchoko-ki" mentions that gunners freely went inside and came out of the stockade.
Concerning the damage done by the teppo, some scholars (such as Motohiko IZAWA) have suggested that 'although the sandan-uchi tactics was not carried out, the horses of the Takeda cavalry were upset when 1,000 teppo were fired at the same time and brought it into great confusion.'
In the battle with the Saiga teppo units, the Oda army was also thrown into a chaos by blanks rapidly fired by the enemy to hide their snipers. It is highly likely that salvo and rapid firing had a great menacing effect on the army of the time. The Takeda force, on the other hand, had never fought with the armies like Zaiga and Negoro where teppo units played a central part. It cannot be denied that as far as measures against gunshot noise are concerned, the Takeda army was more behind than the Oda force that had suffered a heavy defeat. The field fortification, which was unusual at that time and which is itself an important historical fact, was something that the Takeda forces experienced for the first time. Some have argued that the primary reason for Takeda's crushing defeat was the employment of traditional tactics for field battle and cavalry charge.
Another reason behind the Takeda army's crushing defeats was that the battle formation of Takeda army collapsed. Takeda's cavalry which was outnumbered drew lines of battle in the shape of two flanking wings that surrounded the enemy. This formation was repeatedly used by the outnumbered to defeat the outnumbering in all ages and countries. One of the famous examples is the Battle of Cannae (whose details including a formation chart are available in the relevant section). The formation is a tactics for victory in which either wing makes a detour and breaks through the enemy lines. If the central force is defeated before either wing can detour to break through the enemy lines, only the wings will be left and suffer server damage. The case of the Battle of Nagashima is a typical failure. The left wing was led by Yamagata and Naito and the right wing comprised fine and brave warriors like Baba, Sanada brothers and Tsuchiya. Nevertheless, the central force was destroyed as Katsuyori's relatives (including the senior vassals like his uncle Nobukado TAKEDA and his cousins Nobukimi ANAYAMA and Nobutoyo Takeda (of the Kai-Takeda clan)) retreated prematurely. Casualties increased in both wings. (Nobukimi ANAYAMA and Nobukado TAKEDA who admittedly had been in bad terms with Katsuryori were as good as deserting in the face of the enemy in defiance of the command of Supreme Commander Katsuyori). In fact, many of the shohei (officers and soldiers) killed in the battle were deployed in the two wings and (some were fudai (hereditary) vassals and others were among the senkatashu (vanguard)). Besides Katsuyori's relatives, many survived in the central force. His cousin Nobunaga MOCHIZUKI (Nobushige TAKEDA's third son and Nobutoyo's biological, younger brother) was his only relative killed in the center. (Likewise, his uncle Nobuzane KAWAKUBO was his sole relative killed in the Battle on Mt. Tobigasu). Naturally, Nobunaga would have anticipated the two-flanking wings formation to concentrate gunners whose availability was limited on both wings. Yamagata was shot down in the left wing and so was Tsuchiya in the right.
Although this may not be immediately relevant, the Takeda force was psychologically pressured with few options and less time for decision-making, when Mt. Tobigasu was assaulted and their escape route was almost blocked. This can be also regarded as a crucial factor for their defeat. Reportedly, it was clear on the day of the battle, albeit in July, the middle of the rainy season, except the area around the headquarters of the Takeda forces.
(Nobunaga was nicknamed 'Rainy Shogun' as heavy rains always silenced the footsteps of soldiers every time he fought a major battle.)
(So it is unusual that it did not rain). Thus Oda's teppo units were active while the Takeda army incurred more casualties because they could not assess the situation of the battle due to the fog.
The Existence of Takeda's Cavalry
There are various opinions about the existence of 'Takeda's famous cavalry,' which however is not limited to the Battle of Nagashino.
Symbolized by the legend of Black Horse, Kai Province is known of old as the production area of horses. This gives some credibility to Takeda's cavalry. The cavalry was in fact the infantry comprised of mounted warriors and their attendants (buke hokonin or servants of a samurai family) as well as conscripted peasant soldiers (which was a common military organization of the time). The smallest military unit was Yoriko, which consisted of yoriko (a horseman) and his retainers (buke hokonin), which was essentially the smallest operational unit. The yoriko unit could not be broken down further as it also pertains to the grant of honors. This means that the military system did not allow cavalry units to be formed by cavalrymen alone. With some exceptions (like the Battle of Shiojiritoge), no cavalry unit was formed by horsemen alone. The number of mounted warriors assigned to each busho in "Koyo Gunkan" suggests that it was not enough to make a main force (though some have argued that the Koyo Gunkan is not so reliable). The Military Conscription Decree addressed to Nobuzane KAWAKUBO in 1571 refers to 3 mounted warriors, 5 teppo, 5 spears, 5 naginata (long-handled swords), 10 pole weapons, 2 bows and 3 standards. This means that the mounted warriors accounted for only 10 percent. A similar percentage is observed in the Uesugi clan's register of military services and the military services performed by a vassal of the Hojo clan. Rather, the Hojo clan had a slightly higher rate of mounted warriors. (See also the section on Japanese Cavalry under Cavalry).
Famous among different opinions is the one concerned with equine conformation. The complete skeleton of a horse before the Sengoku period was excavated in Yamanashi Prefecture. The horse of the time, including the one indigenous to Kai Province, was presumably smaller than the modern thoroughbred (which is about 170 centimetres tall). A fine horse presented by Shigetsune TAGAYA to Nobunaga ODA in 1579 was 145 centimetres tall. It was as big as the Kiso pony today so it was the size of the modern pony. Yet it was not unusual as the Mongolian horse from the Asian continent of the time was about the same size. It completely differed from the Shetland pony (with a height of about 100 centimetres) which the name of pony often calls to mind. Those who are concerned with the equine conformation seem to be deceived by the name of pony with its imagery. The Takeda cavalry moreover had few tactics drawing on its mobility, albeit one of its greatest traits. It is therefore necessary to distinguish the Japanese cavalry in the Sengoku period from the nomadic or the modern military cavalry in which all fight on horseback.
The allied forces built the stockade for the battle although there are other opinions. Just before the battle, on July 6, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA wrote to his vassal, 'Built a stockade with care. (The Takeda side) will make only cavalry charges,' which is the intent of his order. (Apparently) the allied forces were on high alert against Takeda's cavalry.