Reorganizing his army into nine companies, he retreated to the east. was a revolt of Satsuma ex-samurai against the Meiji government from January 29 to September 24, 1877, 9 years into the Meiji Era.It was the last, and the most serious, of a series of armed uprisings against the new government. The modern Japanese army had passed its first test and would soon develop into a force that would terrorize Asia and briefly humble the Western forces of Russia, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and the United States. This book is a primary source of the Satsuma Rebellion. Though bloodily repulsed by concentrated fire, the samurai continued to hurl themselves at the walls with suicidal ferocity. The influential Satsuma samurai, Saigo Takamori, was away at the time and had no knowledge of these events, but hurried home when he heard the news.Â Initially he was furious about the junior samurais' actions. Born in Satsuma, the westernmost province on the island of Kyushu, in 1827, ‘Great Saigo,’ as his supporters called him, had backed the Meiji emperor in 1867. Working in cooperation, the two imperial forces closed in on the Satsuma army. Yamagata, who had no idea in which direction Saigo had gone, sent out patrols in all directions. The battle around Nobeoka had been so fierce that the imperial army was forced to detail troops to keep floating bodies from fouling a pontoon bridge over which their supply lines passed. He led his samurai straight up the middle of Kyushu, planning to cross the straits and march on Tokyo.Â He hoped to raise the samurai of other domains along the way. With their backs against the wall, outnumbered 7-to-1, large numbers of samurai surrendered, but for many others the very idea was anathema. One of the important Bakumatsu people, Takamori Saigoh decided to make a revolt in his home area, Satsuma (Kagoshima) in 1877 against his old friends and partners inside Meiji government. For the unemployed samurai, such edicts piled degrading insult upon injury. The government had already dealt with several small but violent samurai revolts, and the prospect of Satsuma samurai, which were widely regarded as the best in Japan, being led in rebellion by the Great Saigo was too terrible to contemplate. Blog. Buck, James H. "The Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. To his already extensive artillery train, Yamagata added the weight of five warships in the harbor and began to systematically reduce the rebel positions. Several weeks of guerrilla fighting followed as the government forces mopped up small pockets of samurai scattered throughout the Kyushu hills. On July 24, the imperial forces opened their main offensive against Saigo’s army in Miyakonojo. That system began to come apart in 1854, when U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry sailed into Kagoshima Harbor and invited Japan to join the modern world — at gunpoint. The rebels knew that Saigo was too much of a traditionalist to abandon his fellow samurai in a time of crisis, and would be morally obligated to take command. The only heavy ordnance the rebels still possessed were some homemade wooden cannons wrapped with bamboo strips. However, a government garrison at Kumamoto Castle stood in the Satsuma rebels' path, manned by about 3,800 soldiers and 600 police under Major General Tani Tateki.Â With a smaller force, and unsure about the loyalty of his Kyushu-native troops, Tani decided to stay inside the castle rather than venture out to face Saigo's army.Â Early on February 22, the Satsuma attack began. Although the castle, built in 1598, was among the strongest in Japan, Saigo was confident that his 9,000 samurai would be more than a match for Tani’s hitherto-untried peasant conscripts. After the troops landed, they seized the arsenals and took the provincial governor into custody. Rebellions broke out in Satsuma, Hizen, and Tosa. Emphasis was placed on the historical prowess of the Satsuma warrior, and students were indoctrinated in Bushido, the samurai’s ancient chivalric code. Dr. Kallie Szczepanski is a history teacher specializing in Asian history and culture. With 30,000 troops at his disposal, Yamagata outnumbered Saigo’s forces 60-to-1. The Satsuma Rebellion which took place in 1877 was the most famous, and the final major instance out of a series of shizoku rebellions led in the late 1870s by former samurai of southwestern Japan against the prospect of the Meiji government abolishing their elite status and the rice stipends which had traditionally been the samurai's chief or sole source of income. I feel confident in removing the romantic image of protecting the samurai and fighting corruption, as he was instrumental in modernizing Japan's military. The Satsuma rebellion of 1877 was a revolt of dissatisfied samurai from the Southern Satsuma province against the central Meiji government. Theme: The Satsuma Rebellion in Japan in 1877. The imperial governmentâs conscript levies were hard-pressed to defeat SaigÅ, but in the end superior transport, modern communications, and better weapons assured victory for the government. In late August, Imperial forces led by General Yamagata Aritomo surrounded the rebels on Mount Enodake. In the spring of 1645 a man lay dying in Kumamoto, on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. The modernization of the country meant the abolition of the privileged social status of the samurai class, and had undermined their financial position. As victory and surrender were ruled out, there remained only the hope for a glorious death. His letter indicated that even at that late date Saigo was not committed to the rebellion and sought a peaceful settlement. The Satsuma Rebellion proved that a conscript army of commoners could out-fight even a very determined band of samurai â provided they had overwhelming numbers, at any rate. Unlike previous shizoku uprisings, which were small and poorly organized, the Satsuma Rebellion severely tested the governmentâs capacity to wage war. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. However, he soon learned that 50 Tokyo police officers who were Satsuma natives had returned home with instructions to assassinate him in the case of an uprising.Â With that, Saigo threw his support behind those organizing for a rebellion. That force, comprising two infantry brigades and 1,200 policemen, boarded ship at Nagasaki on March 17 and sailed to Yatsushiro Bay. Saigo and his army made a seven-day march south to Hitoyoshi, where they dug trenches and prepared for the imperial army to attack.Â When the attack finally came, the Satsuma forces withdrew, leaving small pockets of samurai to hit the larger army in guerrilla-style strikes.Â In July, the Emperor's army encircled Saigo's men, but the Satsuma army fought its way free with heavy casualties. She has taught at the high school and university levels in the U.S. and South Korea. The Modern Imperial Army destroyed the last of the Samurai. Ironically, the conflict did more to defeat samurai goals than any act of legislation could have done. By the time fighting resumed on March 3, both sides had been reinforced and numbered about 10,000 each. Gathering a few pieces of artillery from the private schools and some food from the local people, they took possession of Shiroyama (‘castle mountain’). When night came, they split their force in two, slipped around both flanks of the patrol and escaped again. Ironically, this provoked open conflict, although with the elimination of samurai rice stipends in 1877, tensions were already extremely high." He then departed Kagoshima with his rear guard, the main body of his army having left the day before. The map covers the whole Kyushu island and uses point to point system. During the last days of the siege, Saigo lived in a hole measuring only 6 feet deep and 3 feet wide. "Card Game for 2 players. . Written only a year or so after the event it does allow for contemporary opinion. The empire was on a full war footing and was determined to crush the rebellion. While many of Saigo's men desired to make a final stand on the mountain's slopes, their commander wished to continue their retreat back towards their base at Kagoshima. The government, however, refused to negotiate. Master these negotiation skills to succeed at work (and beyond) Early in 1877 the rebellion broke out. In brusque terms, the letter informed him that Saigo would soon be passing by his command, and requested that the garrison be turned out to meet Saigo and receive his orders. Then, kneeling on the ground, Saigo had Beppu cut off his head with a single sword stroke. The end of the Satsuma Rebellion also marked the end of the samurai era in Japan.Â Already a popular figure, after his death, Saigo Takamori was lionized by the Japanese people.Â He is popularly known as "The Last Samurai," and proved so beloved that Emperor Meiji felt compelled to issue him a posthumous pardon in 1889. On January 30, 1877, a government ship arrived in Kagoshima and, without explanation, began removing munitions. They halted, facing the imperials all day. Most of the fighting was now confined to sniping and isolated clashes between rival swordsmen. The Satsuma Rebellion (è¥¿åæ¦äº, Seinan SensÅ, "Southwestern War") was a revolt of disaffected samurai against the new imperial government, nine years into the Meiji Era.Its name comes from Satsuma Domain, which had been influential in the Restoration and became home to unemployed samurai after military reforms rendered their status obsolete. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, A Long History of Japanese Women Warriors, Biography of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 16th Century Unifier of Japan, Overview of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan, Bushido: The Ancient Code of the Samurai Warrior, Russo-Japanese War: Admiral Togo Heihachiro, J.D., University of Washington School of Law, B.A., History, Western Washington University. Retreating before the government troops, the samurai next tried to make a stand at Nobeoka, a coastal city north of Miyakonojo. After several sharp clashes, both sides disengaged on the 26th. They were soon surrounded. Financially, crushing the Satsuma Rebellion cost the government greatly, forcing Japan off the gold standard and causing the government to print paper currency.