The restoration of the Meiji Imperial dynasty in 1868, after 250 years of the Tokugawa Shogunate, decisively opened Japan to the outside world and the monarchy embraced modernization, including the creation of a new Westernized army. However, this modernization process was resisted by the traditional Samurai feudal nobility, leading to a series of battles. The first clash between the two cultures came swiftly. During the Boshin War of 1868 -69, a French military adviser, Jules Brunet, changed sides to join the insurgents. They won several engagements before the final crushing of the rebel Ezo Republic. After this point, the Imperial Army continued to modernize along French lines, and social changes began to impoverish Samurai noblemen, who lost their social and political role and their associated privileges. During 1876, the powerful Satsuma Domain, around Kagoshima in south-west Kyushu, became a focus for discontent. Its leader Saigo Takamori effectively ignored the central government, and in January 1877, increasing unrest broke out into open rebellion. The Imperial forces were now much stronger, and the Navy could land troops and bombard Kagoshima. The bitter Satsuma siege and attempted capture of Kumamoto Castle finally failed in April, and the Samurai made a last stand at Shiroyama on 24 September, choosing to go down fighting. This marked the final defeat and displacement of the Samurai class. This fully illustrated title explores the fall of the Samurai in detail, examining the arms, tactics, key figures of both sides, and charting the increasing Westernization of the Imperial forces.
Giuseppe Rava (Illustrator)
Country of Publication:
28 April 2020
Introduction - the historical significance of the Boshin and Satsuma wars * Decades of change: analysis of the effects of the Meiji Restoration and the causes of the two wars * Chronology * The Boshin War 1868-69, including activities of French military mission, and fall of secessionist Ezo Republic * The Satsuma Rebellion 1877-78, including siege of Kumamoto Castle and decisive battle of Shiroyama * The Imperial Army: organization, uniforms, weapons, tactics and performance, including the Imperial Guard * The Samurai forces: organization, dress, weapons, tactics and performance of the insurgent forces during both wars * Conclusion * Select Bibliography * Plate commentaries
Gabriele Esposito is an Italian researcher and a long-time student of military history. His main field of research is the military of 19th-century Latin America, but his interests range from the Ancient world to modern post-colonial conflicts. He has published several works in the UK, including MAA 499 Armies of the War of the Triple Alliance 1864-70 and MAA 504 Armies of the War of the Pacific 1879-83, and is a regular contributor to many specialized magazines. He lives in Italy. Giuseppe Rava was born in Faenza in 1963, and took an interest in all things military from an early age. Entirely self-taught, Giuseppe has established himself as a leading military history artist, and is inspired by the works of the great military artists, such as Detaille, Meissonier, Roechling, Lady Butler, Ottenfeld and Angus McBride. He lives and works in Italy.