Battle of Utsunomiya Castle


May 19, 2022

The Battle of Utsunomiya Castle (宇都宮城の戦い, Utsunomiyajō no tatakai) was a battle fought between the imperialists and the Tokugawa shogunate during the Boshin War in Japan in May 1868. It took place when the army Tokugawa shogunate troops retreated north to Nikkō and Aizu.


Early in the spring of 1868, the former Tokugawa retainers under Ōtori Keisuke and Hijikata Toshizō gathered in Kōnodai (国府台), leaving the Shogun's capital Edo in large numbers. However, a small number of Aizu people under Akizuki Noborinosuke and Tatsumi Naofumi's Kuwana domain soldiers were also present, as well as a handful of surviving Shinsengumi, such as the Shimada Kai. While many of them were samurai, there were also many members of other social classes, especially under Ōtori's direct command. Their target was Utsunomiya, a fortified town on the way north to Nikkō and Aizu, a position of vital strategic importance. The daimyō of Utsunomiya, Toda Tadatomo, was not there, as he had been commissioned by Tokugawa Yoshinobu to go to Kyoto and submit a letter of apology and submission. However, when he arrived at Ōtsu, Toda met the Satsuma-Chōshū army, and was imprisoned, as such a letter reaching Emperor Meiji could lead to early forgiveness, complicating the military subject further. of the anti-Tokugawa coalition. This left Utsunomiya in the hands of Tadatomo's retired predecessor, Toda Tadayuki, who advocated surrender, but did not participate in the efforts of the former shogunate.

Events leading up to battle

In the days leading up to the battle, the former shogunate army moved rapidly in the region from city to city, with Hijitaka taking two sessions in Hitachi province —Shimotsuma and Shimodate—on May 7 and May 8. the session was small and the daimyo ran away, they didn't have much more money or supplies, and Hijitaka couldn't get what he had hoped for. At about the same time, peasant rebellion broke out in Utsunomiya, providing the perfect opportunity for the old shogunate army to attack, which they seized without delay. Ōtori's army launched an attack on the castle on the morning of May 10, 1868, facing a mixed imperial army from Matsumoto (Shinano province, 60,000 koku), Kurohane (Shimotsuke province, 18,000 koku) , Mibu (Shimotsuke Prefecture, 18,000 koku), Iwamurata (Shinano Prefecture, 18,000 koku), Susaka (Shinano Prefecture, 12,000 koku), Hikone (Ōmi Province, 350,000 koku), Ōgaki (Mino Province, 100,000 koku), Utsunomiya (Shimotsuke Province) , 77,000 koku), and Kasama (Hitachi province, 80,000 koku). The castle fell that same day, Toda Tadayuki fled to Tatebayashi. Ōtori, leading the main army, entered the city on the 20th, and his army took all the rice from the storehouses and distributed it to the people in the city, who, as noted above, rebelled within a few days before. After that, they attempted to strengthen the position of the Otori army here. Otorri's men, now in contact with Hijitaka's troops, including others such as former Shinsengumi members of Nagakura Shinpachi's Seiheitai unit Seiheitai, headed north to Mibu, where they intended to hide and lay down to wait; However, when they arrived, they discovered that