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Sanada Yukimura
Jan 18, '20

Sanada Yukimura (真田 幸村, 1567 – June 3, 1615), actual name: Sanada Nobushige (真田 信繁), was a Japanese samurai warrior of the Sengoku period. He was especially known as the leading general on the defending side of the Siege of Osaka.

An enduringly popular figure of Japanese historical legend, Sanada Yukimura was a Sengoku/early Edo Era general who reached Folk Hero status with record speed after his death. His usual appellations are "the bravest warrior in Japan" and "crimson war demon." He owes his fame mostly to his badassery during the Siege of Osaka.

Yukimura's real name was Sanada Nobushige — the romantic name "Yukimura" is a later construction, and it was never used during his life. His youth was a turbulent time for the Sanada: as the second son of a highly respected samurai and tactician, Sanada Masayuki, a vassal of Takeda Shingen, he was first sent to the Uesugi as a hostage in return for military assistance, and later he was sent to serve Toyotomi Hideyoshi while the rest of the Sanada allied directly with Tokugawa Ieyasu.

During the first Eastern-Western conflict Yukimura and his father sided with Ishida Mitsunari, but Ieyasu emerged victorious and Yukimura was exiled, barely avoiding execution (his older brother Nobuyuki, Ieyasu's son-in-law, interceding on his behalf). He spent the next 14 years in exile, until he received a secret message that the remaining Toyotomi allies were regrouping to rise against Ieyasu.

Siege of Osaka

During the first campaign of the Siege of Osaka (1614-15, also known as the Toyotomi clan's last stand) Yukimura was in charge of planning the defense of Osaka castle, which he did so well that the castle was nigh impregnable. After the two sides signed a temporary peace agreement the outer defenses of the castle were destroyed, so Yukimura saw a lot more action in the second campaign. His most famous fight was the battle of Tennouji, the last desperate effort of the Toyotomi army. When it became apparent that they weren't going to win, Yukimura reportedly said: "Well, the war is over - all that is left for us is to fight to our hearts' content. Our goal is Tokugawa Ieyasu's head!" He launched a head-on assault and managed to break through the defenses of Tokugawa Ieyasu's personal army, tore down his flag and forced Ieyasu to flee and even consider seppuku.

Hero Death

However, the Tokugawa forces greatly outnumbered Yukimura's already tired troops, and once they got over the panic the tables were turned. Reinforcements were late, and in the end Yukimura himself was too exhausted and bleeding from too many wounds to go on - most accounts say that unable to fight any longer, he let himself be killed by the enemy soldiers. His death completely demoralized the Toyotomi forces, and by the next day the siege was over.
Jan 18, '20
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