Shogun 2 – Mori Clan AAR: Spring 1545
By 1545, in the 14th year of the reign of emperor Go-Nara, the once peaceful realm of Japan had descended into chaos. Since the outbreak of the Onin war, over 70 years earlier, the power of the Muromachi Bakufu of the Ashikaga Shoguns had been nearly totally eroded. Nominally still charged with the security of the country, in practise the Ashikaga were figureheads, just like the imperial family whose power they had usurped.
Mori Motonari had been at the healm of his clan for over 20 years, and had thus far protected his province from the ravages of war.
The Mori clan’s home province was in Aki. Aki has good fertile soil, and was known for a local holy site, which made local monks especially zealous. In 1545, the Mori clan was embroiled in an ongoing disupte with the Amako clan. A Mori invasion was recently turned back at the gates of the Amako clan stronghold in Izumo, and now the Amako were counter-attacking, with an army having reached the Aki-Iwami border.
The border to the West was secure for the time being, as relations with the Ouchi clan were strong, and an alliance had existed for some years. Nevertheless, the Mori’s allies were in no military position to intervene.
The Mori are masters of ship building and naval warfare, but the current war had taken its toll on the navy, which consisted of only one bow kobaya.
The army was also dimminutive. After its defeat in Izumo, the Mori could now only muster one unit of 160 bow ashigaru, two units of 200 yari (spear) ashigaru and one unit of yari samurai. The clan’s only cavalry force was the bodyguard units of the Daimyo Mori Motonari, and his son and heir Mori Takamoto.
Motonari has two other sons: Motoharu and Takakage who are 15 and 13 years old respectively.
The destruction of the main body of the clan army reduced the clans overheads, and in Spring 1545 the clan had 3,000 koku and healthy surpluses.
Motonari considered the situation, and concluded that turning back the invading Amako army could not wait for more troops to be recruited. The funds he had available, he therefore chose to invest in building his province’s economy. To this end, he ordered the construction of improved irrigation, and the upgrade of the harbour to a fully-fledged trading port.
Possessed of a remarkably prescient knowledge of economic thought, Motonari also concluded that reducing the tax burden on the peasants and the merchants will encourage greater private sector growth and allow him to reap long-term gains. Motonari decreed that, henceforth, the commoners in Aki should only be required to surrender 20% of their produce to their lord.
The gratitude of the lower orders was such that Motonari felt it safe to march his whole army out to confront the invading Amako, leaving none at home to keep the peace. This would allow Motonari to field both bodyguard cavalry units in battle, and this could be a decisive advantage.
Before marching out, Motonari issued orders to the sole remaining ship of the Mori fleet to seek out and secure a foreign trade route, until such a time as the Mori could construct a trade fleet to take advantage of it. With a mere 250 koku left in the coffers, Motonari ordered his ship builders to begin work on an additional bow kobaya, in the hope of securing more foreign trade before it could be seized by other ambitious clans.
Concious that everything possible must be done to build his clan’s income, Motonari dispatched an emmissary to the Kikkawa clan to propose a trade agreement. Their acceptance boosted Mori income by around 70 koku a quarter. Motonari would keep the agreement until the time is right to come to a new arrangement with the Kikkawa.
Confident that everything is in order, Motonari marched out of his castle with his whole force to confront the Amako. As he approached the battlefield, his scouts reported that the Amako force comprised one unit of bow ashigaru, two yari ashigaru and one unit of light cavalry.
Motonari opted for a night attack in the hope that the reduced visibilty would reduce the defensive advantage of the archers.
The Amako general successfully secured a hill and blocked Motonari’s attempt to take the high ground.
This left Motonari no choice but break the Amako in a frontal assault. The Mori yari ashigaru bore the bront of this decision, and much of their blood was spilt. Flanking attacks by the yari samurai and the bodyguard cavalry were decisive, however, and the Amako were driven from the field.
Disdaining to retire to Aki to recoup his losses, Motonari pressed his advantage and pursued the retreating army. All but a small remnant of cavalry had abandoned the Amako banner, and these were swiftly annihilated leaving Motonari free to continue the advance on Hamada castle in Iwami province. As spring turned to summer, the Mori army was a few miles from the castle.