The Oda Generals – A List of the Brave Samurai Warriors of the Oda Clan

The Oda Generals

Oda Nobunaga, a prominent warlord in Japan, was able to consolidate his control over Owari by the year 1558 with the help of his men, or who we’d call as the Oda Generals.

Not only that, but their teamwork also helped unite the feuding Oda branches as well. They made up Oda’s ranks as his army charged to conquer and unite the lands of Japan. Here are the most prominent Oda generals from feudal Japan.

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Toyotomi Hideyoshi was born in Nakamura in Owari. He was a Daimyo, a warrior, a general who served and succeeded Oda Nobunaga later on. In 1558, he was an Ashigaru who joined the Oda clan. There are claims that he played a significant role in various battles involving Oda’s forces.

With Hideyoshi’s efforts, Nobunaga won the Siege of Inabayama Castle. Because of this, this made him one of most remarkable Oda generals, despite being from a family of peasants.

Hideyoshi served in multiple military campaigns for Nobunaga in the following years. He commanded armies in various battles which brought victory to the Oda. With the triumph at the Battle of Anegawa, Nobunaga assigned him as the Daimyo of three regions of Omi province.

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When Nobunaga died, he succeeded him and ruled Japan. Like his predecessor, he did not aim for the title of the Shogun. Instead, he made arrangements to have the Fujiwara clan’s Konosuke Sakihisa adopt him.

This allowed him to earn a succession of titles in the high court such as the Kampaku. This is the high-standing position of the Imperial Regent.

He is also famous for his cultural legacies, such as the law that only the Samurai could carry and use weapons. Aside from that, he funded the construction and rebuilding of various temples that stand in Kyoto until today. The Japanese Invasions of Korea or the Imjin Wars of 1592 to 1598 is another reason for his popularity.

Maeda Toshiie

Maeda Toshiie
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Maeda Toshiie came from Arako Village in Aichi, Owari. He was Maeda Toshiharu’s 4th son and began serving Oda in 1551. Toshiie first acted as a page but soon climbed up the ranks as a Samurai commander of Oda Nobunaga.

Being one of the Oda generals, Toshiie joined the battles of Anegawa and Nagashino, where he received a fief in Echizen in the year 1574. He became one of the Echizen Triumvir, and was soon given a Noto in 1581.

After the death of Oda Nobunaga, he first assisted Shibata Katsuie. Yet after some time, chose to ally with Toyotomi Hideyoshi instead. As a reward, Toshiie received the Kaga province, adding this to his domain. By the year 1595, his fief valued around 445,000 Koku, and Toshiie was one of those in charge of keeping order in the realm.

This was during the time when Toyotomi Hideyori came of age.

Who was the Traitor Among the Oda Generals?

Mitsuhide Akechi was a loyal general of Oda Nobunaga. Yet at some point, he became the traitor in the ranks of the Daimyo. Akechi was an original retainer of the Saito family, yet his past, prior to the year 1567, seemed a bit hazy. There are claims stating that he assisted the Asakura of Echizen before teaming up with Nobunaga in 1567.

Aside from being a competent general, Akechi was a noted poet, as well as a practitioner of tea ceremonies. These attributes may have aided him to rise in the ranks of Oda’s men.

In the Siege of Yakami Castle, it’s said that Akechi promised safe conduct to Hatano Hideharu. This was if he surrendered completely. But soon after, Oda withdrew this promise by killing Hatano and his brother. Due to the actions of the Daimyo, Hatano’s retainers took Akechi’s mother for revenge then killed her.

There were also claims that Oda humiliated Akechi in every opportunity possible. The reason may be due to the Samurai warrior’s skills in poetry.

At some point on June 1582, Akechi and his troops attacked then killed Oda. But instead of gaining the support of the local lords, his actions led to his defeat. He lost by the hands of Toyotomi Hideyoshi at Yamazaki.

While fleeing the battlefield, Akechi met his death. Despite him becoming an enigmatic figure, he was still known as a skilled and able general. Ironic as it sounds, it was a judgment weighed in a letter from Oda to Sakuma Nobumori in 1580.

The Loyal Shibata Katsuie

Shibata Katsuie served Oda Nobunaga throughout the career of the Daimyo. However, he went against Nobunaga and sided with Oda Nobuyuki, Nobunaga’s brother, in 1556. He led a rebellion against Nobunaga but lost at the Battle of Ino.

Later, the warlord executed Nobuyuki. Since Katsuie’s bravery pleased Nobunaga, he pardoned and spared the warrior’s life. He became loyal and continued to serve Nobunaga. This earned him praises from the warlord.

Katsuie married Oichi, Nobunaga’s sister, but had to divorce at a certain period. He fought at the Battle of Okehazama in 1560. Aside from that, he also fought in the war with the Saito clan which lasted from 1561 to 1567.

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A year later, he led an army that won against the Miyoshi and Matsunaga forces at Sakai. His victory allowed him to hold Chokoji at the south of Omi, which opened the road from Mino to Kyoto. He also defended Chokoji in early 1570, when the Rokkaku attacked the region.

In the Battle of Anegawa in 1570, he commanded a rank of troops. He was also one of the primary commanders in the following year. This was when Nobunaga attempted to bring down the stronghold around Nagashima.

Hori Hidemasa

Another remarkable Samurai of the Oda Generals was Hori Hidemasa from Owari. His first task in 1581 was to conduct a land survey in the area of Izumi. This was during the survey of Makinoji – a temple branch of Mt. Koyo, Kongobuji.

On the 11th of June, he attacked then burned down the temple. Later in the same year, he received Obama Castle in Wakasa. On June of 1582, Hidemasa joined Hideyoshi in attacking Mitsuhide Akechi. It was also the time when he fought at Yamazaki to defeat the traitor.

The Samurai warrior secured Sakamoto Castle, which became a part of a huge fief that he received as an award. This was in Omi which was worth 90,000 Koku.

In the year 1584, Hidemasa participated in the Campaign of Komaki, alongside Hideyoshi. He led a total of 3,000 troops at the Battle of Nagakute. In addition, he assisted the Toyotomi army in surrounding Odawara Castle in the year 1590. Yet it was unfortunate that Hidemasa died in camp during this specific campaign.

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