Battle of Toba-Fushimi - Events of 28 January

Events of 28 January

On 28 January, Iwakura Tomomi gave Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi obtained orders from Emperor Meiji proclaiming Tokugawa Yoshinobu and his followers to be enemies of the Court, authorizing their suppression by military force, and granting use of the Imperial brocade banners. These brocade banners were prepared beforehand, having been made by Okubo Toshimichi a few months previously, and stored in Chōshū domain and in the Satsuma Kyoto residence until an appropriate opportunity presented itself.

In addition, Imperial Prince Yoshiaki, a young man of 22, who had lived as a Buddhist monk at the monzeki temple of Ninna-ji was named nominal Commander in Chief of the army. Although the Prince had no military experience, this nomination effectively transformed the Satsuma-Chōshū alliance forces into an Imperial army (or Kangun), which proved to be a powerful tool of psychological warfare, sending Shogunal forces into confusion and disarray, since anyone who fired on the army would automatically become a traitor to the Emperor.

The Bakufu forces that had been to Toba retreated and regrouped with other Bakufu troops at Tominomori (富の森), where they set up their command base.

Meanwhile, the Naval Battle of Awa took place that same day in the nearby Inland Sea. It was the first naval battle between modern fleets in Japan, and ended with a small Shogunal victory over a Satsuma fleet, but was insignificant to the unfolding of the land battle.

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