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The Activities of Japanese Armed forces in Kyeongsang Province in the Early Period of Imjin War : Battle of Yeongcheon Fortress

Kim Kyong tae 1

1한국학중앙연구원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

To evaluate the activities of the righteous voluntary army during the Imjin War period, it is imperative to grasp those of their adversaries, the Japanese army. Researches up until now have not focused on the activities of the Japanese army and some of them even illustrated the circumstances based on inappropriate grounds. Every battle needs at least one army and its counterpart. Without analyzing the adversaries and the materials written by them, it is hard to fully reconstruct the circumstances of a battle only with the materials written by people of Joseon to reflect it's perspective. This is why we need to understand the activities of the Japanese army using Japanese historical records. During the war, the Japanese army moved on war footing directed by the order of deployment of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. They had to follow Hideyoshi’s grand strategy of invading Ming China. Yet each troop consisted of a general, his vassals, and the soldiers under their command and it had to procure its own rations and forces. How they procure the provisions was up to the judgement of the general: he had to make his own decision whether to pillage, to transport them from its domain, or to rent. He was also given mandate to decide what kind of tactics they would take for the battles during the army’s advancing or stationing. The independent nature which each troop assumed renders it hard to trace the Japanese troops; information on the Japanese army, such as to whom the troop belonged, who participated in the battle, is hard to find from historical records. And this is why it is hard to grasp the Japanese army who fought against the righteous voluntary army at Yeongcheon fortress. Using various orders of deployment issued by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, this article argues that the Japanese army who participated in the Battle of Yeongcheon Fortress must have been small scale troops which entered Joseon after the 9th troops or troops under the Mori Terumoto and Toyotomi Hidekatsu. Meanwhile, from the records of the troops under Terumoto, this article traced the activities of the Japanese Army in Kyeongsang Province during the period of Yeongcheon fortress. From the early phase of war, pillage and violence by the Japanese army incurred strong resistance of Joseon people. Yet the Japanese army could not cope with situation and the righteous army staged a series of riots here and there. After the battle at Yeongcheon Fortress, the Japanese army suffered repeated defeats at subsequent battles of similar scale. After that, the main body of the Japanese army assembled along the line from Hanseong to Pyeongyang in order to defend the region from their new enemy, Ming army. The remnant troops left in Kyeongsang Province retreated from their various posts and gathered into positions where they could easily defend themselves. This made it possible for Joseon to recover the region which was exploited as main passage and posts of the Japanese army.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.