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Mongols was such that the Japanese would probably have been decisively
defeated if a storm had not fortuitously blown up on the very first—and,
as a result, only—day of the invasion.
The samurai were accustomed to firing signal arrows to announce the
commencement of battle and then to pairing off to fight one against one,
all the while shouting out their names and pedigrees. Here, according to
a Japanese source, is how the Mongols responded to this style of fighting
during the first invasion:
The Mongols disembarked, mounted their horses, raised their banners, and
began to attack. . . . [One Japanese] . . . shot a whistling arrow to open the
exchange. All at once the Mongols down to the last man started laughing.
The Mongols struck large drums and hit gongs so many times . . . that they
frightened the Japanese horses and they could not be controlled. The Japanese forgot about handling their horses and facing the enemy. . . . [The Mongol] general climbed to a high spot and, when retreat was in order, beat the
retreat drum. When they needed to race forward, he rang the attack gong.
According to these signals, they did battle. . . . Whereas we [ Japanese] thought
about reciting our pedigrees to each other and battling man to man in glory
or defeat as was the custom of Japanese armies, in this battle the Mongols
assembled at one point in a great force.18 Not only were the Mongols better organized for battle, operating in
units and using drums and gongs for signaling, they also employed
weapons, including catapults, exploding balls, and poisoned arrows, that
were entirely new to the Japanese. The samurai horses, as mentioned in
the above passage, were especially frightened by the drums, gongs, and
exploding balls. The exploding balls, we may note, provided the Japanese with their first exposure to the use of gunpowder, which had been
invented in China.
The colossal force of 140,000 in the second invasion, although it overran several islands, was never able to make a significant landing on
Kyushu proper. A major reason...
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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