Hi everyone. Please note that this was originally written back in 2016 I think, I am in the middle of researching more about this battle and I will update it as I go along. Cheers!
The Battle of Tabaruzaka was one battle within the Satsuma Rebellion (Seinan War) fought between the newly formed Imperial army of the Meiji Government and rebels from Kyushu lead by Saigo Takamori. This article will discuss the siege of Kumamoto Castle, the Battle of Tabaruzaka as well as the retreating battles of Ueki and Kitome.
Kumamoto Castle as it looked at the time of the Satsuma Rebellion.
Tabaruzaka, also known as ‘Suicide Pass’ was the location for one one Takamori’s last stands against the imperial army. Takamori’s Army numbered about 15,000 and the imperial army numbered nearly 90,000. Takamori’s troops dug in up on Tabaruzaka mountain pass in an attempt to stop Kumamoto castle from being reinforced by imperial troops while the rebels attacked the castle.
After the first week of fighting losses were terrible for the rebels, about 3000 dead and 4,500 wounded. Heavy rain made the use of firearms impossible so fighting was conducted the old fashioned samurai way, with swords. Due to heavy losses on both sides the imperial army brought in cannons to force the rebels off the mountain.
After nearly 2 weeks of fighting and heavy losses Takamori called off the seige of Kumamoto castle and retreated to Miyazaki leaving behind a number of rebel groups to ambush following imperial troops.
I found quite a chilling song relating to this battle.
The rain rains down, rains down.
Drenching both mounts and men.
They must cross, they will not cross
In their right hands bloodied swords,
In their left their horses’ reins.
High and handsome in the saddle-
Ah, exquisite youth!
The hills are strewn with their corpses;
The rivers run with their blood,
Enriching, as it flows, the harvest-
Sad, wild Autumn……