Ichimura Tetsunosuke (市村鉄之助)

Tetsunosuke ICHIMURA (1854 - 1873?) born in the Ogaki Domain of Mino Province was a member of the Shinsengumi (a special police force of the late Tokugawa shogunate period).

Induction in the Shinsengumi and change of the times

In 1854, he was born as the third son of Hanzaemon ICHIMURA, a retainer of the Ogaki Domain. In 1859, his father Hanzaemon was cast out from the domain, and he grew up in Kunitomo-mura Village, Omi Province (present Nagahama City Shiga Prefecture), where his relatives were living. In 1867, he joined the Shinsengumi at the age of 14 with his older brother Tatsunosuke as it was accepting application. Tatsunosuke ICHIMURA was assigned to ryochoho(long gunner) and Tetsunosuke was ordered to work under Toshizo HIJIKATA (Kai SHIMADA's Eimeiroku [Record of Shinsengumi members]). Afterwards, all the members were promoted to immediate retainers of Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and he became a Shogun's retainer at the age of 14.

However, November 1867, the bakufu disappeared due to Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor), and in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi in January 1869, the former bakufu army lost the battle against the allied force of Satsuma Domain and Choshu Domain. The Shinsengumi once left Kyoto to withdraw to Edo (present Tokyo) and although it returned again to Kyoto as 'Koyo Chinbutai' (a military unit formed specially for the campaign in Kai Province) to fight against the Imperial army, it suffered a crushing loss again. He withdrew again to Edo.

Escape to Hakodate

After returning to Edo, he was engaged in recruiting the members of the Shogunate Infantry. Around this time, his older brother Tatsunosuke ICHIMURA ran away from the Shinsengumi. After the detention of Isami KONDO, Head of Shinsengumi, the remnants fought the battles in the Aizu Domain as well as in present Fukushima City and Sendai City, and finally they reached Ezo (present Hokkaido).

Tetsunosuke ICHIMURA accompanied Hijikata as his page, and Hijikata commented about Tetsunosuke that 'he was extremely strong-minded and at the same time very clever.'
Around May 1869, he was prepared to die in battle with Hijikata but Hijikata ordered him to leave Hakodate, and he abandoned the force, consigned to keep Hijikata's belongings. Three months later, he escaped the Imperial army's encirclement, and in safety reached the house of Hikogoro SATO a Hijikata's relative. Tetsunosuke stayed during some two years at the HIKOGORA SATO, and then he returned back to his parents home and held a reunion with his older brother, however, he died of illness in 1873.

According to the story handed down by the Kishi family, a relative family of Kai SHIMADA, Tetsunosuke supported the side of Takamori SAIGO and died in battle. Later this anecdote was cited in "Shinsai shigen" (Shinsai sayings) and others, and converted into a well known history. However, at present there is no such oral tradition left in the Kishi family (according to the interview survey on the Kishi family in 2005).

[Original Japanese]