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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

September 24th, 1877 – The Battle of Shiroyama

Conflict: Satsuma Rebellion

Combatants: Imperial Japanese vs. Satsuma Rebels

Location: Japan

Outcome: Imperial victory

In 1868, the shogunate of Japan was abolished in favor of a Western-style constitution and signaling the end of the Samurai. In 1876 it became illegal to carry a sword in public and by February of 1877, a small army of former Samurai had begun clashing with police and Imperial government forces. Yet by September of the same year, the army of some 25,000 Samurai had been reduced to only 500. These remaining Samurai took refuge on a hill named Shiroyama. Government forces numbering 30,000 laid siege and, after several weeks, brought heavy artillery to bear against the defenders on the evening of September 24th, 1877. The commander of the Samurai was wounded in the bombardment and took his own life. The few remaining men then chose to charge down the hill in a last fatal attack. Thus ended the Samurai era and the last of the Japanese civil wars.

Shiroyama Battle by by Nagashima Mōsai

Points of Interest:

  • The bulk of the rebel army were defeated attempting to block reinforcements during the Siege of Kumamoto.

  • Many samurai and former samurai joined the rebel forces, but the rebellion was never as numerous as the government's conscript army which reached over 90,000 men at times.

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