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Unformatted text preview: Nobunaga divided the infantry of his army into three units by
weapons: gunners, bowmen, and spear men. The major problem with the
guns of that day, apart from their inaccuracy, was the time required to
reload them. During the minutes when the gunners were reloading, the
bowmen and spear men had to take up the slack by maintaining the
attack against the enemy. The reloading problem could also be dealt with
by dividing the gunners into groups and having them fire in relay or
volleys. It appears, in fact, that Nobunaga was the first commander in the
world to develop such volley fire. Geoffrey Parker, describing the Battle of
Nagashino in 1575, in which Nobunaga’s guns defeated the finest cavalry
in the land (the cavalry of the Takeda family), writes: “The warlord
Nobunaga deployed 3,000 musketeers in ranks in this action, having
trained them to fire in volleys so as to maintain a constant barrage. The
opposing cavalry—ironically of the same Takeda clan which had pioneered the use of the gun—was annihilated. The battle-scene in Kurosawa’s film Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior) offers a credible reconstruction, for the action is intended to represent Nagashino.”6 According to
Parker, Europeans did not develop the technique of volley fire until the
1590s, some two decades after the Japanese.
It is often assumed that the Portuguese also influenced the Japanese
in the construction of castles in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth
centuries (fig. 42). Certainly this was the great age of castle building in
Japan, but there is little evidence that the Japanese received any direct
Portuguese instruction or aid in the building of these fortresses. Rather,
the castles of the era of unification appear to have evolved as a natural
product of conditions of accelerated warfare and the formation of more
firmly and rationally controlled daimyo domains.
In the early centuries of the medieval age, the samurai had apparently
felt very little need for strong defensive fortifications. Although occasion- 1...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13