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Oda Nobunaga's Generals

Posted January 20th, 2011 at 06:05 PM by leakbrewergator

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Well, I already looked at the famous generals of both Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin. Now it’s time to take a look at the men who could count themselves among the elite of Oda Nobunaga’s army. Now, Nobunaga waged war for so long and on a much grander scale than anyone before him, so the list of men who served him were ever changing and constantly growing. Despite this, I have kept this list to only 30 names.

I’ve also tried to rank the men in the order that I felt they ranked within Oda’s army. This is simply based on how important I felt they were to Oda’s success at one point or another. I’ll try to be as brief as possible in the descriptions I provide as well. I hope you enjoy!

Tokugawa Ieyasu – Now, I don’t have Ieyasu listed first because I think he was the most important retainer of Oda Nobunaga. I just feel it’s necessary to list Ieyasu separately from the rest of Nobunaga’s vassal band. While Ieyasu still maintained his independence, and he was never a direct subordinate of Nobunaga’s, there can be no question that the two did enjoy a vassal-overlord relationship.

Shibata Katsuie – I know that Nobunaga’s family maintained a higher position within his army. However, I feel there is no other general that was more important to Oda Nobunaga than Shibata Katsuie. That can be seen in the extensive amount of land that Katsuie was rewarded by Nobunaga during his career. Katsuie was granted the entire province of Echizen, and he was the only vassal of Nobunaga who basically enjoyed complete autonomy within his domain. Katsuie employed his own band of direct vassal, which included the elite unit known as the Echizen Band. (Original name, I know.)

Oda Nobutada – Nobutada was the heir to Nobunaga’s domain as his oldest son. However, Nobutada was not important simply because of his bloodlines. He was a more than capable military leader of his own. During the latter part of Nobunaga’s life, he often entrusted military campaigns entirely to his son. Nobutada was able to put the final nail in the Takeda’s coffin in 1582 without the assistance of his father. Unfortunately for the Oda, Nobutada was killed along with his father during the Honnoji Incident.

Oda Nobutaka – Nobutaka was the third son of Nobunaga, and like Nobutada, he enjoyed a great military career as well. Being the son of Nobunaga afforded him the privilege of being within his father’s inner circle. Despite a career of military success, Nobutaka might be remembered best for a serious gaffe that he committed. After news of his father’s death reached him, he decided to pursue his cousin, Oda Nobuzim, on the grounds of treason. This allowed Hideyoshi to take the initiative in seeking revenge on Akechi Mitushide. Thus allowing him to make a legitimate claim as Nobunaga’s successor.

Hashiba Hideyoshi – I don’t think there can be any doubt that Hideyoshi is the most important man to come out of the Oda regime. However, within the ranks of the Oda, he was beneath the Oda family. He also seemed to play second fiddle to Shibata Katsuie in terms of hierarchy within clan. Something that helped to lead to the dispute between the two after Nobunaga’s death.

Oda Nobukane – Nobukane was a younger brother of Nobunaga. In fact, he was only 1 of 3 brothers that would go on to outlive the Demon King. Nobukane enjoyed elite status as being ranked among the Oda Branches, basically the Oda family. However, unlike Nobutada and Nobutaka, Nobukane really never accomplished much in the field of battle.

Oda Nobuzumi – Nobuzime was the nephew of Nobunaga and he was also counted among the Oda Branches. He occupied a vital castle at Osaka after the Hongaji was defeated and was entrusted with the hostages of the Araki family after the Araki Crisis. As mentioned above, he was accused of being a part of the plot to kill Nobunaga and was defeated by his cousin, Nobutaka.

Sassa Narimasa – Narimasa was a top notch military mind. He was with Nobunaga from the onset and served him in all of his major battles. He is noted as being among the Echizen Trumvirs (Not to be confused with the Echizen band.) Narimasa was also a member of the elite umamawarishu, or horse guard, unit for the Oda.

Akechi Mitsuhide – Before he famously turned on Nobunaga, Mitsuhide was a very capable general under the Oda banner. There are still disputes as to why Mitushide betrayed Nobunaga. Perhaps the theory that has the most validity is that Mitsuhide was indeed set on usurping Nobunaga’s power.

Ikeda Tsuneoki
– Tsuneoki was granted virtually every special accommodation by Nobunaga throughout his career. Basically, if there was a special unit or new reward, you can bet that Tsuneoki was one of the men that achieved it. He was also often used as a mediator by Nobunaga. His negotiation skills came in handy during many of the Oda’s prolonged campaigns.

Sakuma Nobumori – At one point in time, you could have made the case that Sakuma Nobumori was the highest ranking general in the Oda army. He was a high ranking member of the horse guards and his prestige in the unit rivaled that of Shibata Katsuie’s. Unfortunately for Nobumori, the Sakuma fell out of favor with Nobunaga, and they were stripped of their ranked and basically sent into exile.

Hosokawa Fujitaka – Fujitaka came into the service of Oda with Ashikaga Yoshiaki. He was the advisor to the Shogun during his partnership with Nobunaga. When the two had a falling out, Fujitaka stayed on to serve the Oda. He was highly sought after by both sides (Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi) after the Honnoji Incident. Despite familial ties within the Akechi, Fujitaka sided with Hideyoshi and became a close confidant of the latter.

Niwa Nagahide – Nagahide was with Nobunaga since the beginning. Naturally he was a member of the Horse Guards and he was a chief retainer within the Nobunaga army. He fought in several of the Oda battles including Anegawa, Nagashino, Tedorigawa, and several others. Nagahide may have been in charge of overseeing the building of Azuchi Castle, which is ironic because he also may have been the man responsible for burning it to the ground.

Takigawa Kazumasa – Kazumasa was a senior retainer of the Oda who, like Ikeda Tsuneoki, was usued often as a mediator. Like several other of the Nobunaga generals, Kazumasa rose through the ranks of his army through military skill. Along with Kuki Yoshitaka, Kazumasa was in charge of the relatively small and sometimes ineffective Oda fleet.

Maeda Toshiie – Once again, Toshiie is another example of an exemplary warrior rising steadily through the ranks of the Oda. He entered the service of Nobunaga as a page and eventually rose to a position that would lead him to become one of the most powerful men in Japan. He was also listed as one of the aforementioned Echizen Triumvirs.

Matsunaga Hisahide – I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not a big fan of Hisahide. He truly is one of the villains of the Sengoku Jidai. He saw an opportunity to better his position by joining Nobunaga in his march on Kyoto and he seized it. Hisahide used his skills in the tea room to befriend Nobunaga and come close to his inner circle. He would eventually do what he does best and betray Nobunaga by rebelling, only to be defeated and forced to kill himself.

Suganoya Nagayori – Nagayori is a lesser known of the Oda generals, but he was an extremely important figure. His title was “horse guard commissioner” and he has been called the most important permanent resident of Azuchi Castle. After Nobunaga’s death. Nagayori was one of five men appointed to a committee of Horse Guard commisoners.

Araki Murashige – Murashige is another individual from this period that I’m not too fond of. While Nobunaga was busy contending with the 2nd Anti-Nobunaga league, Araki Murashige rebelled and holed himself up in a pivotal territory. This was known as the Araki Crisis, and outside of the Honnoji Incident, it is known as the greatest threat to Nobunaga’s regime. Murashige escaped from the castle he was being besieged in only to face an ultimatum: turn himself in or have all the castle inhabitants (including his family) executed. Murashige went with the latter.

Takayama Ukon – Ukon joined Murashige in his rebellion against the Oda, but, due to him being a Chirstian, he was persuaded to switch sides by the Jesuit missionaries. Ukon most famously assisted the Oda in their siege of the Ishiyama Honganji.

I’m getting kind of tired so the last few names here will have a REALLY brief description. My apologies, and if you want any more info, feel free to ask.

Fuwa Mitsuharu – One of the Echizen Triumvirs. Was a very capable diplomat for the Oda.

Tsutsui Junkei – The main figure in Nobunaga’s Castle Burning Campaign in Yamato Province. Helped to defeat Matsunaga Hisahide, his former master, after he rebelled.

Hori Hidemasa – Was named to the same committee of horse guard commissioners that Suganoya Nagayori was after Nobunaga’s death.

Inaba Ittetsu – Joined Nobunaga after his subjugation of the Saito, and fought at Anegawa.

Gamo Ujisato – Fought for the Oda for nearly all his life (fought in his first battle at the age of 13!) He married a daughter of Nobunaga and assisted in hiding family members during Akechi Mitsuhide’s revolt.

Nakagawa Kiyohide – Joined Araki Murashige during his rebellion, but like Ukon, he switched allegiances and joined the Oda. His defection was seen as far more important than Ukon’s.

Ando Morinari – Like Ittetsu, Morinari came to the Oda after the Saito fell and he fought at Anegawa. Morinari was dismissed from the Oda after the fall of the Ishiyama Honganji.

Hasegawa Hidekazu – Was named to the aforementioned committee of horse guard commissioners after Nobunaga’s death.

Kuki Yoashitaka – Was in charge of the Oda fleet during their battles with the Mori.

Kawajiri Hidetaka – Another example of a Samurai rising through the ranks of the Oda. Hidetaka was awarded Kai province after the fall of the Takeda.

Ujiie Bokuzen – Was another Samurai that came over from the Saito after their defeat.

Phew! I definitely bit off more than I could chew with this.
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  1. Old Comment
    Thegn Ansgar's Avatar
    I think the only thing that I can say I like about Hisahide is his defiant attitude. Ordering his head to be destroyed so it couldn't be a trophy, and smashing his priceless tea kettle were pretty awesome ways of dying. If I was in his position, I hope that I'd be brazen enough to destroy everything I own so that the person who beat me couldn't get anything at all.

    His love for artistic things is also pretty admirable.
    Posted January 20th, 2011 at 06:21 PM by Thegn Ansgar Thegn Ansgar is offline
  2. Old Comment
    leakbrewergator's Avatar
    Very true. It's still hard to like anything that Hisahide did, either in life or death. The painting of him smashing the tea pot is a classic, though!
    Posted January 21st, 2011 at 07:08 AM by leakbrewergator leakbrewergator is offline

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