A Sengoku era Japanese enclave in Oregon (RAR!)

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Abacus
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Re: A Sengoku era Japanese enclave in Oregon (RAR!)

Post by Abacus »

double post
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Elheru Aran
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Re: A Sengoku era Japanese enclave in Oregon (RAR!)

Post by Elheru Aran »

Well I think it's fairly safe to assume that the Japanese are militarily superior to the natives in many ways, archery notwithstanding. The fact that they have samurai, who will be in plate armour and highly trained with any number of conventional weapons, gives them quite an edge; horses will put them over, especially as the PNW was never very big on horses as far as the natives were concerned. Of course, cavalry isn't as good in forest as it is in open space, but it won't be too far from what the Japanese are used to IIRC.
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Re: A Sengoku era Japanese enclave in Oregon (RAR!)

Post by Abacus »

Elheru Aran wrote:Well I think it's fairly safe to assume that the Japanese are militarily superior to the natives in many ways, archery notwithstanding. The fact that they have samurai, who will be in plate armour and highly trained with any number of conventional weapons, gives them quite an edge; horses will put them over, especially as the PNW was never very big on horses as far as the natives were concerned. Of course, cavalry isn't as good in forest as it is in open space, but it won't be too far from what the Japanese are used to IIRC.
The OP states that they only have a few horses. I don't think you're likely to have anything approaching what could be called a group of cavalrymen. That and I'm not so sure how worried the natives would be about the Japanese horses. The average Japanese horse was only 130cm tall (4.2 ft tall).

In "Samurai, Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan", Karl Friday mentions an experiment conducted in 1990, in which a 350 kg heavy and 130 cm tall pony was timed while carrying a rider and sandbags totalling 95 kg. The results were rather dismal:

"The poor beast dropped from a gallop to a trot almost immediately, and never exceeded 9 kilometers per hour. After running for ten minutes, the horse was visibly exhausted. To put these numbers in perspective: unladen thoroughbreds can gallop at up to 60 kilometers per hour, while the standard prescribed during the Meiji period for cavalry mounts carrying (unarmored) riders was 300 meters per minute -- about 18 kilometers per hour." (p.97)

"The combination of puny mounts, weighty armor, and the rarity of open terrain would have precluded sweeping charges and feigned retreats favoured by the steppe warriors, even if the Japanese had wished to fight that way. Instead, therefore, the bushi developed a distinctive, somewhat peculiar form of light cavalry tactics that involved individuals and small groups circling and maneuvering around one another in a manner that bore an intriguing resemblance to dog-fighting aviators." (Ibid., p.107)


The style of mounted combat favored in the later, medieval period still had the same mounts, but they were used in larger, lightning charges -- as was often demonstrated by the infamous Takeda Clan and their cavalry. As was demonstrated by Takeda Shingen at the Battle of Mikatagahara, his units of cavalry were only good for about one charge before needing to rest and recuperate. He seems to have organized his cavalry forces into waves and initiated joint-unit action, as his army's infantry followed closely on the heels of the cavalry charge, to help give it more penetrating force. It should noted that the second charge only had 50 mounted men.

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The bigger edge, I'd argue, would be concerted action by companies of organized ashigaru, led by their samurai captains. Backed up by a unit of 100~120 arquebus armed samurai (kind of a shock attack unit, or one that could be used to stabilize any position on a battle line), such a force would be fairly unstoppable.


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Another issue I have about this thought experiment is: clothing. What the hell are they going to do about clothing? No more access to silk for the making of kimonos. They'd have to fall back upon making them from hemp or linen. So I'm curious, if in the rush to escape, anyone thought to bring some hemp or flax -- both of which are very labor intensive in turning into fabric material. Do you think that the Japanese might have to "lower themselves" by wearing local dress (ie leather from buckskin, et al)?
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Re: A Sengoku era Japanese enclave in Oregon (RAR!)

Post by Elheru Aran »

Huh, didn't know the Japanese horses were *that* shitty. I knew they were smaller than Western horses, but that's a bit, well, puny.

As for the clothing, yeah, after stuff starts wearing out they're going to have to rustle up some kind of local equivalent, whether they like it or not. It's that or start trying to do a Bering Strait sea route back to Japan for trade.
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Re: A Sengoku era Japanese enclave in Oregon (RAR!)

Post by Purple »

They aren't shitty. They are just different because the requirements for them were different. His quote even says as much.
The terrain in most of Japan simply does not lend it self to the kind of large flat field battles that spawned the Mongol cavalry hordes or the European knightly charge. And thus the Japanese newer bred horses that would be useful in that role. Instead they bred horses that were useful in traversing hills and stuff and generally being useful for what they needed. A Japanese war horse was as capable for fighting in Japan as an European warhorse was for fighting in Europe.

As for clothing I doubt that the average peasant farmer could afford silk for his day to day work clothes. And even if they could it's not like Japanese clothing and crafting is devoid of all other fabrics. They knew full well how to work other stuff too (You would not for example make a bag for storing stuff out of silk). So adapting becomes a question of what seeds or worms they brought and how these would adapt to the local conditions. It's not going to be that much of an issue at all.
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Re: A Sengoku era Japanese enclave in Oregon (RAR!)

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You have that backwards, Purple. Small, weak horses combined with weighty armor prevented effective cavalry tactics of the sort popular in Europe; the Japanese did indeed begin switching to a more familiar (to a Western mind) tactical repertoire towards the end of the Sengoku period, which was very effective but remained hampered by the lack of adequate horses for sustained high-tempo action. That's my takeaway from Abacus' post, anyway.

And I don't think it's quite true that Japanese cavalry of the older style was to Japanese medieval infantry as European cavalry was to European medieval infantry; the former appears to have been mediocre light cavalry at best and the latter could and did regularly break any comparable force of infantry without pikes and/or excellent discipline, barring things like flooding the whole combat area or making the cavalry charge through an effective marsh under constant arrow-fire. Japanese cavalry was obviously useful, otherwise nobody would have bothered, but it wasn't the dominant battlefield force it was in Europe, as far as I'm aware. I remain open to correction, though; I'm not an expert here.
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Re: A Sengoku era Japanese enclave in Oregon (RAR!)

Post by Abacus »

A few things:

(1) No, Purple, the horses were genuinely shitty (in comparison to European thoroughbreds). The Japanese were never able to breed larger horses until the 19th century, when they re-opened their borders in the wake of the Boshin War. By the mid to late Sengoku era, cavalry was definitely in decline (only places like Kai province or the northern Kanto area continued to have major concentrations of them). Japanese war horses were not useful in traversing hills -- at all. That's why most conflicts took place in valleys or on plains. For a great deal of time, from the mid 16th century onward, horses were mainly used as pack animals.

(2) Esquire is correct, in his takeaway summation there. Since you couldn't give your enemy the time to sit and shoot you down with muskets all day, riding in front of him trying to fire your bow -- samurai adapted to full on charges, which had previously been reserved as a last ditch effort on the part of older generations. It was definitively *not* the dominant force on the battlefield that it was in Europe (or Asia). Japanese daimyo, successful ones at least, were constantly being forced into using combined arms tactics -- mixing their forces with ranged and melee infantry, with units of cavalry always on the periphery or used for intimate, short charges to cause an enemy's battle line to become disordered. From as far back as 1333 and the Nanboku-cho era, infantry became the dominate force upon the battlefield. There is a reason why you would hear sayings such as this: "Do not excessively covet swords and daggers made by famous masters. Even if you can own a sword or dagger worth 10,000 pieces, it can be overcome by 100 spears each worth 100 pieces. Therefore, use the 10,000 pieces to procure 100 spears, and arm 100 men with them. You can in this manner defend yourself in time of war." (Asakura Toshikage (1428-1481) (Toshikage Jushichikajo article 4))

(3) The Japanese imported their silk from China, throughout the ages. They also imported cotton, via trade with the Ryukyu Islands and as far afield as the Indonesian Islands (thanks to the supply coming from India). They *only* had hemp or other planet fibers locally before they began to import foreign textiles. Silk wasn't as expensive as you might believe -- though at first it was. You can read more if you like here. With the advent of cotton and silk imports, they no longer had to rely solely upon hemp as a source for clothing. So them being sent to the North American continent, leads me to believe that they'll be forced to fall back upon older ways -- this assuming that someone thought to bring hemp with them; or are able to find it locally?
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