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  • Mongol Invasion of Japan

    The Mongols, after defeating China and rolling over Korea, made three attempts to land forces in Japan to bring them under the yoke.

    All three failed.

    In one, a mighty wind rose up unexpectedly and sank all or most of the Mongol (and Korean levy) invasion fleet.

    In another, a small force was landed and defeated by Samurai.

    I don't know anything about the third one.

    Does anyone have more information on the attempted invasions?

    1. Who led the Mongol army, and what forces were available?

    2. Who led the Japanese, and what forces did he have?

    3. Were there technological differences, and if so, what were they?

    4. Were there only three invasions, and what became of them?

    5. What was the aftermath of these attempts?

    6. What questions did I forget:quest:

    Thanks

    JS
    Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
    Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


    "Never pet a burning dog."

    RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
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  • #2
    Here is a link on the subject:

    http://www.ualberta.ca/~chor/mongolin.htm

    Kublai Khan was the Mongol emperor. DOn't know off hand who led the armada.
    http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

    Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

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    • #3
      Based on dannybou's link, and my source, "Dictionary of Wars", there were only two Mongol invasions of Japan attempted. It was the second invasion, in which the "divine" wind (kamikaze) blew up and destroyed or dispersed the invading armada.

      My resouce places Kublai Khan as the head of the Mongols, but does not indicate the direct commander. 4,500 junks, and about 150,000 men were involved in the second invasion. The Mongols took several islands off the north west coast of Kyushu, plus landed on Kyushu. After two months of battle, and the divine wind, the Mongols ran out of supplies, and were soon defeated. Only several thousand Mongol troops were able to escape.

      Dictionary of Wars, george C. Kohn, Facts on File Publications, New York, NY, 1986. ISBN: 0-8160-1005-6
      Retreat hell, we just got here. Every Marine, a rifleman.

      Never let the facts get in the way of the truth.

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      • #4
        Re: Mongol Invasion of Japan

        Here is what I found, somewhat generalized as it would take a huge book to be more precise.

        Originally posted by Janos
        The Mongols, after defeating China and rolling over Korea, made three attempts to land forces in Japan to bring them under the yoke.

        All three failed.

        In one, a mighty wind rose up unexpectedly and sank all or most of the Mongol (and Korean levy) invasion fleet.

        In another, a small force was landed and defeated by Samurai.

        I don't know anything about the third one.

        Does anyone have more information on the attempted invasions?

        1. Who led the Mongol army, and what forces were available?
        As Iron Mike stated there were two attempted invasions. Both were ordered by Kublai Khan. For 1274, my source indicates rougly 5000 Mongols and up to 15,000 Korean and Chinese. For the 1281 invasion, there were supposed to be two armies: 40,000 Mongol/Chinese/Korean troops and 100,000 southern Chinese troops.

        2. Who led the Japanese, and what forces did he have?
        At the time of both invasions, the "Kamakura Shogunate" was in charge militarily but the Emperor was the main ruler. Both leaders were not really factors as the invasions were at Kyushu (far away from both Kyoto and Kamakura).

        The Shogun was a mere puppet. Military decisions were made by the Hojo family, with Hojo Tokimune being the Regent.

        It was the Kyushu lords who supplied the defending troops.

        3. Were there technological differences, and if so, what were they?
        The Mongols introduced firebombs, filled with gun powder, which were launced into the Japanese positions (either thrown by infantry or catapulted). The Mongols also had access to Chinese siege weapons although these were not really implemented.

        The Japanese had the advantage of the sword. Because of the forging techniques, these were sharper and stronger than most of the swords used by the invaders.

        4. Were there only three invasions, and what became of them?

        5. What was the aftermath of these attempts?
        There were two invasions as previously stated. Along with difficulties pacifying southern Asia, Kublai Khan did not move from his "Chinese" empire and essentially stayed there.

        The Japanese got a taste of mass warfare: they were used to small skirmishes where you fought one-on-one (call out your opponent, single archery duels, sword duels, etc) and had to face massed arrows and mulitiple opponents.

        For 1274, the invasion lasted about a day. Mongol-led troops invaded and burned, but returned to their Korean ships at night. A small storm tossed the fleet, which returned to Korea suffering about 1/3 casualties. For Kublai Khan this was not a complete disaster.

        For 1281, Kublai Khan assembled a much larger force. The Japanese were better prepared and built a defensive wall around Hakata bay in Kyushu. The small islands between Korea and Kyushu were invaded, but the Japanese defense held up Kyushu. The Japanese employed boat attacks on the fleet and caused the Mongol fleet to retreat from Hakata bay to some of the captured islands. Then the typhoon struck the unprotected fleet and obliterated it. The surviving ships returned leaving behind thousands of stragglers to be killed by the defenders.

        6. What questions did I forget:quest:
        Uhmmm....don't know

        Maybe, why the Mongol tactic of hit-and-run etc was of no use as the Mongol cavalry was not a factor. If the Mongols had used what captured them most of Asia, why not attempt cavalry landings elsewhere? On a related note, what if the Korean-built Mongol fleet had been stronger?

        My source essentially comes from Dr. Stephen Turnbull.

        The Samurai Sourcebook and Osprey Men-at-Arms 103 The Mongols.

        Hope this helps.
        "The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving."

        -Ulysses S. Grant

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        • #5
          Re: Re: Mongol Invasion of Japan

          Originally posted by yuefei
          <snipped>At the time of both invasions, the "Kamakura Shogunate" was in charge militarily but the Emperor was the main ruler. Both leaders were not really factors as the invasions were at Kyushu (far away from both Kyoto and Kamakura).

          The Shogun was a mere puppet. Military decisions were made by the Hojo family, with Hojo Tokimune being the Regent.
          So there was an emperor, who was a figurehead, and a Shogun who was a figurehead, and Hojo Tokimune did all the work? I had heard that there was an era where the emperors were figureheads, but not that shoguns were, too.
          It was the Kyushu lords who supplied the defending troops.
          This is the most interesting thing in your post, IMHO.
          A Mongol Emperor in China sends a small, then a moderate sized army against Japan, and the "local guys" have the ability to defeat it. That says a lot about the state and power of local lords and Japanese feudalism (there is probably a better word than that, but for a Euro-centric guy like me, that's what comes to mind).
          The Japanese got a taste of mass warfare: they were used to small skirmishes where you fought one-on-one (call out your opponent, single archery duels, sword duels, etc) and had to face massed arrows and mulitiple opponents.
          Interesting again. No major battles in that era in Japan? Certainly there had to have been some earlier -- they're essential for unification and to suppress rebellions. I read this to mean that it had just been a long time. Am I correct?
          Hope this helps.
          It does indeed.
          JS
          Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
          Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


          "Never pet a burning dog."

          RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
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          http://www.sca.org
          http://www.scv.org/
          http://www.scouting.org/

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          • #6
            Re: Re: Re: Mongol Invasion of Japan

            Originally posted by Janos
            So there was an emperor, who was a figurehead, and a Shogun who was a figurehead, and Hojo Tokimune did all the work? I had heard that there was an era where the emperors were figureheads, but not that shoguns were, too.
            The shogunate was originally from the Minamoto family (this era is not exactly my area of expertise). I believe the 3rd shogun's wife was from the Hojo family and this allowed the family to pull strings. They gradually took over the rest of the shogunal vassals (other clans who made up the shogunate government) by diplomacy and warfare, and they eventually decided who became shogun (although only the Emperor could bestow the title)...eg they once recommmended that an imperial family member become shogun (nobility as opposed to a military family). The shogun could still call the shots, but may have known that to go against the Hojo and their supporters would mean a short reign.

            There were other members of the Hojo family who ruled, but Hojo Tokimune was the regent at the time of the invasions.

            There was a battle in 1221, where the Emperor attempted to overthrow the Hojo regency, but he was defeated. But my info is scarce.

            This is the most interesting thing in your post, IMHO.
            A Mongol Emperor in China sends a small, then a moderate sized army against Japan, and the "local guys" have the ability to defeat it. That says a lot about the state and power of local lords and Japanese feudalism (there is probably a better word than that, but for a Euro-centric guy like me, that's what comes to mind).


            I really have no hard facts on exact numbers. The Japanese did fight in large groups (100s), but typical mass warfare did not evolve until later. It should be noted that the Japanese carried out successful raids on the docked ships. This could have been like close quarters combat, where the Japanese would excel with their smaller force and superior arms.


            Interesting again. No major battles in that era in Japan? Certainly there had to have been some earlier -- they're essential for unification and to suppress rebellions. I read this to mean that it had just been a long time. Am I correct?
            There were major battles during the Genpei wars (the Minamoto and the Taira --- the Minamoto were victorious, hence were able to be appointed shogun) 1180 to 1185. In fact 1185 was the battle of Dan no Ura, a sea battle which essentially ended the war. I have a few books which describe the battles but I haven't really read much. :nonono:

            Sorry for the message length.
            "The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving."

            -Ulysses S. Grant

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            • #7
              Re: Re: Re: Re: Mongol Invasion of Japan

              Originally posted by yuefei
              Sorry for the message length.
              No problem.
              Good info like this is what the space is for!
              Thanks
              JS
              Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
              Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


              "Never pet a burning dog."

              RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
              http://www.mormon.org
              http://www.sca.org
              http://www.scv.org/
              http://www.scouting.org/

              Comment


              • #8
                I had a computer game a couple of years ago, Shogun; one of the campaigns was the Mongol invasion of Japan. I don't remember how historical accurate it was. Here's a pic of some Mongols.
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                "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."
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