All About History

01 Retreat to Ezo


While other shogunate forces surrender, Enomoto Takeaki refuses to turn his fleet over to imperial authoritie­s. Instead, he sails to the island of Ezo, arriving in late October 1868.

02 March to Hakodate

Shogunate troops march towards Hakodate under the command of Hijikata Toshizō and Ōtori Keisuke, capturing the town’s primary fortificat­ion, the star-shaped, western-style Goryōkaku fortress, which was perhaps undefended, at the end of October 1868. Goryōkaku becomes the stronghold of the shogunate forces in the defence of the short-lived Republic of Ezo.

03 Matsumae Domain subdued

The shogunate offensive to take control of all of southern Ezo, the island known today as Hokkaido, begins with a march on Matsumae Castle at the southern tip of the island, where the leaders of the Matsumae Domain have reportedly declared their allegiance to the imperial court. Hijikata, one of the most experience­d field commanders in the shogunate rebel army, leads his troops to capture Matsumae Castle in November 1868.

04 Pincer attack on Esashi

Hijikata and Matsudaira Sadaaki, at the head of forces from the Kuwana Domain, lead strong columns in converging marches against the village of Esashi, a bustling centre of fisheries and commerce on the southwest coast of Ezo. They assault the town but lose the valuable rebel warship Kaiyō Maryu in the process.

05 Republic of Ezo

Their positions on the northern island temporaril­y secure, Viscount Enomoto and other leaders of the shogunate forces proclaim the Republic of Ezo in January 1869. Enomoto, who has inspired the rebels to continue fighting, is elected president and the republic is establishe­d on a democratic basis, resembling that of the United States. Britain and France offer conditiona­l recognitio­n to the new state; however, the imperial government is determined to maintain Japanese unity.

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