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Battle of Futamata
Part of the Boshin War
Futamata from Daibayama.jpg
Ono Kawashita Futami district (from Daibayama)
Date April 13 - April 29, 1869
Location
Ono Village, Kameda District, Oshima Province (now Nakayama Pass, Hokuto City, Hokkaido)
Result Bakufu victory (1st battle)
Imperial victory (2nd battle)
Belligerents
Flag of the Japanese Emperor.svg Japan Seal of Ezo.svg Ezo Republic (remaining Shogunate forces)
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Japanese Emperor.svg Masagorō Komai 
Flag of the Japanese Emperor.svg Mitsutaro Takigawa
Seal of Ezo.svg Hijikata Toshizō
Strength
800 400
Casualties and losses
30 killed 6 killed

The Battle of Futamata (二股口の戦い, Futamata-guchi notatakai) was fought in the Oshima Province on April 13 - April 29, 1869 and was one of the battles during the Battle of Hakodate. The remnant of the Bakufu Army set up a defense around Odaiba and used variety of weapons (katanas, tanegashima matchlocks, Yari spears and muskets) against Japanese forces who are marching to the two-pronged entrance leading to Hakodate, and blocked the advance of the new government army for two weeks.

Background

On April 9, 1869, 1,500 Japanese troops landed in Otobe and began marching toward Hakodate from three routes. One of them, Futamata, was the shortest route to Hakodate, and was the only place that crossed the pass from Inakuraishi between Futamata to Onomura. The commander of the expeditionary forces was Masagorō Komai, a Choshu samurai. They marched to the route with 500 men, consisting of Matsumae and Choshu clan soldiers. The former Shogunate Army, which will be greeted by a Vice-CommanderHijikata Toshizo, will lead 300 samurais consisting of two platoons of the Shinsengumi and two regiments of the Ezo training infantry (衝鋒隊 The Impulse Corps), and will arrive in two days on April 10 and set up the headquarters in Daibayama.

The Bakufu Army set up 16 battlements around Daibayama with Tenguyama as an references point, and waited for the enemy.

Battle

At 3:00 pm on April 13, the Japanese army started marching from Esashi to the captured Tenguyama position and launched an attack on Odaiba. The former Shogunate Army defended Odaiba with rifles and by using the battlement as a shield, and a fierce shooting battle occurred. The Japanese army, which is superior in number, changed soldiers one after another and repeated attacks, and the Bakufu rebels, which greeted them, continued to attack them while taking breaks with two platoons taking turns. When it started to rain around sunset, the former Shogunate army put on a jacket to protect the ammunition from getting wet, and when the bullets got wet, they were put in pockets and dried.

Battle of Futamata oldmap
An old map depicting the Battle of Futamata The river that flows through the center is the Ono River, and the river that joins above is the Shimo Futami River. The battlement of the former Shogunate army on Mt. Daiba is depicted above, and the position of the new government army on Mt. Tengu is depicted below.

The next day, around 7 am on the 14th, the Imperialist army were exhausted and withdrew to Inakuraishi. In a 16-hour battle, the Bakufu forces consumed 35,000 bullets. On the day the battle was over, Hijikata Toshizo was heading to Goryokaku for a report and a request for reinforcements.

On April 16, when 2,400 newly Japanese troops landed in Esashi, the reinforcements consisting of Satsuma and Mito clan soldiers were dispatched to the area, and their ammunition and food were also supplied. On the other hand, the Japanese Army, keenly aware that it is not easy to pull out the bifurcated base, would begin to march on an open road from Assabu to Uchiura Bay over the mountains from April 17. It was a strategy to send soldiers and ammunition from here to attack the fort from behind the Shogunate forces, but this plan was also extremely difficult. During this time, two platoons of trainee officers led by Mitsutaro Takigawa have been strengthened in the former Shogunate army. On April 23, the battle began as the former Shogunate army's repulsion approached the Tenguyama position of the Imperial Japanese army guarded by the troops of the Fukuyama Domain.

Around 4 pm on the same day, the Japanese army, which abandoned the battlement, climbed a steep cliff and fired at the enemy from the mountain with their rifles on the left side of the defenders, and it was a fierce night battle. Before dawn on the 24th, a trainee officers led by Takigawa rushed into the position to give relief to his forces. Mitsutaro Takigawa rushed into the enemy while still on horseback, and the soldiers also pulled out theirs swords all at once and followed the captain. The Japanese army was confused, and Masagorō Komai, who tried to stop his own route by himself, was killed after being hit by a bullet in the chest. Even so, the new government forces replaced new soldiers one after another, but they did not defeat the old Shogunate forces and finally retreated before dawn on the 25th.

In this battle, which lasted more than a day and night, the former Shogunate army continued to attack the Imperialist while cooling the hot barrel rifles with tub water. After that, the Japanese army will give up the capture of Daibayama and concentrate on a detour building. While the Hijikata led his army to stop the advancing Japanese army at the road between Matsumae and Kikonai were breached by the new government army, and the remaining Bakufu army was on the defensive with Yafurai. On April 29, Hijikata dispatched reinforcements, but Yafurai was breached, which forced Hijikata and his troops to withdraw to Goryokaku.

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