Kiheitai
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Kiheitai
Kiheitai
Keiheitai.jpg
Kiheitai Militia 1864-1866
Active 1863 (1863)
Disbanded 1868 (1868)
Country Japan
Allegiance Ch?sh? Domain
Type Volunteer Militia
Size 300 (Total enlisted: 622)
Engagements Shimonoseki Campaign
First Ch?sh? expedition
Second Ch?sh? expedition
Boshin War
Takasugi Shinsaku (1863-1867)
Yamagata Aritomo (1867-1868)

The Kiheitai (, Irregular Militia) was a volunteer militia raised by Takasugi Shinsaku of the Ch?sh? domain during the Bakumatsu period of Japan.

Background

Founded in 1863 by Takasugi Shinsaku, the Kiheitai militia consisted of 300 men, who came from all social classes, including farmers, merchants, samurai and others. Most were from Ch?sh?, but a few volunteers were from other domains. The Kiheitai was known for its discipline, and use of western-style weapons and military techniques. It was partly funded by the Ch?sh? domain, but gained the rest of its financial support through donations by wealthy merchants and farmers. Kiheitai followed a developing trend which had been spearheaded by the shogunate following the Convention of Kanagawa to form military units based on ability rather than hereditary social status. Shinsengumi, a Kyoto-based, pro-Tokugawa police force, was founded in the same year as Kiheitai, and was also composed of people from a broad variety of social classes.

Battles

The Kiheitai militia saw action in the Bombardment of Shimonoseki in 1864, during which the fleets of Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and the United States fired upon the Ch?sh? port city of Shimonoseki, and subsequently landed troops.

As the military arm of the pro-reform faction within the Ch?sh? domain, the Kiheitai helped overthrow the pro-bakufu faction in the Ch?sh? civil war, repulsed the Second Ch?sh? expedition sent by the Tokugawa bakufu in 1866. Around the same time, the Second Kiheitai was formed in the Su? Province.

Illustration of Cavalry, Infantry and Soldiers Retreating (Kiheitai, hoheitai, daich?ren no zu)

Takasugi died of tuberculosis in 17 May 1867, his Kiheitai militia was taken over by his protégé Yamagata Aritomo. The Kiheitai militia played an important role in the Boshin War, which led to the Meiji Restoration.

Disband

The Kiheitai was disbanded in 1868, with total enlistment of 622 men since 1863. The success of the socially mixed unit and its Western armaments and tactics was an important influence on the development of the Imperial Japanese Army, and on the later system of universal military conscription in Japan.

Other Usage

The forces defending Aizu-Wakamatsu during the Boshin War, and the forces of Saig? Takamori in the Satsuma rebellion also used the term 'kiheitai' to describe themselves.

The Kiheitai in Media

  • The Kiheitai appeared in an expansion of Creative Assembly's Total War: Shogun 2, Fall of the Samurai as special units of the Choshu domain. They are featured as an elite unit, having below-par statistics with other late game elite infantry but requiring less money and time to recruit and maintain, and can be recruited on unlimited number unlike other elite units.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin the Kiheitai is seen in a number of flashbacks as the title character, Kenshin, was recruited into the force by Takasugi Shinsaku himself.
  • In Gintama the Kiheitai also appears as a terrorist faction led by Gintoki's old friend turned enemy, Shinsuke Takasugi, who is loosely based on Takasugi Shinsaku.

References

  • Huber, Thomas M.: The Revolutionary Origins of Modern Japan. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1981.
  • Craig, Albert M.: Chôshû in the Meiji Restoration. Lanham et al.: Lexington Books, 2000.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Kiheitai
 



 

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