View Full Version : Last Samurai French !!

9th February 2004, 16:31
I - The Shimonosoki War, 1863-1864.
In 1863, some foreigners in Japan were killed by samurai. Indeed, this ones were against the Europeans since contact with commodore Perry in 1854. The French warships SEMIRAMIS and TANCREDE bombarded Shimonoseki on july 20th, 1863. The French marines troops were landed . They had successfully taken a fortified position. On september 5th, 1864, Shimonoseki was still bombarded by British, French, Dutch and American warships. The ships attacked the prince Nagato's batteries. A expeditionnary corps was landed to destroy the fort. 60 guns were taken, three of them are still to the Invalides (Army museum) at Paris, France. On october 22th, 1864, the Shimonoseki agreement alllowed a return to the peace.

II - France reorganised the shogunate army (1867-1869).
On july 1865, Shibata Takenaka (1823-1877) was send in Europe, in France, to prepare the last details of the Yokosuka navals facilities project. But, he was also charged to ask to the British and French government about a military mission in Japan. The British government seemed to not be interested in the japanese demand. Shibata had a rendezvous in september 1865 with the French foreign office minister Drouyn de Lhuys (1865-1881). The minister agree the Japanese proposition.

On february 1866, the shogun Iemochi Tokugawa (1846-1866) send a letter to the Emperor Napoleon III.

The minister of War general Randon decided to send in Japan a mission of 15 membres.The staff capitain Charles Sulpice Jules Chanoine, who was at this time an attach?Eto the military staff of Paris was appointed as chief of the military mission.The mission was composed of 15 instructors, an officer for each weapons - infantery, artillery and cavalery - and 10 non-commissionedofficers, and two soldiers. Chanoine had a good experience of the Far-east as he spend four years in China as chief of the French occupation force during the Second Opium War from 1859 to 1862.


List of the member of the first Western military mission in Japan :

- Charles Albert Dubousquet, lieutenant to the 31th Rgt of the line, instructor of infantery,

- Edouard Messelot, lieutenant to the 20th bataillon of chasseurs ?Epied, instructor of infantery,

- Léon Descharmes, lieutenant to the Empress Dragoon Regiment of the Guard, instructor of cavalry,

- Jules Brunet, lieutenant to the Horse Artillery Regiment of the Guard, instructor of l'artillery,

- Jean Marlin, sergeant to the 8th bataillon of chasseurs ?Epied, instructor of infantery,

- François Bouffier, sergeant to the 8th bataillon of chasseurs ?Epied, instructor of infantery,

- Henry Ygrec, sergeant to the 31th Rgt of the line, instructor of infantery,

- Emile Peyrussel, sergeant, sous-maû‘re de manège ?El'école d'état-major, instructor of cavalery,

- Arthur Fortant, sergeant, Horse Artillery Regiment of the Guard, instructor of artillery,

- L. Gutthig, trumpeter to the bataillon de chasseurs of the Guard

- Charles Bonnet, chef armurier second class,

- Barthélémy Izard, sergeant, chief artificier of the Horse Artillery Regiment of the Guard,

- Frédéric Valette, sergeant, maû‘re en bois,

- Jean-Félix Mermet, brigadier, ouvrier en fer,

- Jourdan, captain, Engineer of the 1st Engineer Regiment,

- Michel, sergeant, Engineer of the 1st Engineer Regiment,

The group is directly under the conrol of the minister of War: general Randon.

In France, the public annoucement of the military mission in Japan tiggered a general enthusiasm. This event appeared on the front page. The officers left Marseilles in november 19th, 1866. First steps of this long trip to Japan: Egypt and Alexandria, they crossed Suez by railroad and went on board "Cambodge" Ship. The ship went to Singapor, Saigon then Hong-Kong. They took an other ship: "l'Alphée". They went to Shanghai and arrived at Yokohama in january 13th, 1867.

The shogunate had preparated the drill field near Yokohama, Otamura and near Edo, Komaba. Artillerie and cavalery were studied at these two places and the infantery, at Kanda (Edo). The first cadets were student at the Franco-Japanese college of Yokohama. The French officers learn the japanese way of life. The relations between the French and the Japanese were exellent. But the work was hard. The French officer had the job to create an army on the european model for the first time of this country. The shogun engaged some reform, creating a military administation, and a military hierachy on French model. The military arsenals were modernised by the French officers at Yedo and Sekinoji.

III - The odd story of the French officers during the Japanese civil War (1868-1869).

The first military mission was at the end with the Japanese imperial restoration. On the october 15th, 1868, the fist group prepared his departure for France. This group was composed with an officer and seven sub-officers. They took a boat of the French Imperial Messagery compagny. An other group composed by captain Chanoine, chief of the military mission in japan, and the other officers Messelot, Jourdan, Brunet, Perrusel, Fortant, Bouffier, Marlin and Cazeneuve, left Japan aboard an american courrier. Du Bousquet stay in Japan as military attach?E This is what capitain Chanoine said to the French minister in Japan, in fact, it was untrue!

The second group did not leave Japan! All of them choosed to stay in Japan with their cadets except Chanoine to cover their actions. To not be consider as deserter, Brunet decided to hand in one's resignation. He send a letter to capitain Chanoine dated from october 4th, 1868. He send an other letter to the Emperor Napoleon III. In this letter, he explained the reasons why he decided to join the Tokugawa resistance. He said that he will support the Northern daimos because he consisdered its as pro-French and because his former cadets was there.

Who was capitain Brunet ? He was born in 1838, graduate of l'école polytechnique and of Artillery military School. He joined the Imperial Guard. He participated to the Mexican Campaign where he was honored for his bravery. He became captain in 1867.

The Tokugawa bakufu came to an official end on November 9th, 1867 with the resignation of the 15th Tokugawa Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu and the "restoration" ('Taisei Houkan') of imperial rule. Shortly thereafter in January 1868, the Boshin War (War of the Year of the Dragon) started with the Battle of Toba Fushimi with the defeat of the old shogunate's army by the army of the new government, the armies of Choshu and Satsuma. On october 4th, 1868, Brunet and Cazeneuve went to Shinagawa Bay from Yokosuka. They joined the former shogun fleet led by Takeaki Enomoto. Brunet went on board the amiral ship, Kaiyo-maru. The Enamoto's fleet went to Sendai where he hoped to encourage Yoshikuni Date to help the tokugawa. For his part, Captain Brunet wanted to meet the other French officers Bouffier, Marlin and Fortant. These one with their cadets went to Sendai by road. A conference at Aoba Castle at Sendai on october 27th, 1868, was organised to united the shogunate resistance. Unfortunatly, the victory of imperial forces against Aizu Han changed the situation. The northern resistance begun to collapse. Enamoto decided to go on Hokkaido.


Emperor Meiji

Takeaki Enomoto

The Enamoto's fleet left Sendai Bay on november 23th, 1868. A plan prepared by the French officers allowed to Enomoto forces to take Goryokaku fortress. On december 25th, 1868, Enomoto organised elections to create a government like american's one. Capitain Brunet led the military organisation of Goryokaku fortress and Hakodate's line of defense. On march 1869, the imperial government launched the campaign against Hokkaido. On may 20th, 1869, the southern forces landed on Hokkaido and took the Fukuyama fortress. Most of the defenders surrendered to the imperial army. The final attack against Hakodate his launch on june 30th by land and by sea. The Enamoto forces were out numbered. They were 800 against... 7000! In the Goryokaku fortress, Enomoto decided that the fight was now futile. He surrended. This was the end of the Boshin War. Brunet and the other officers were send to Yokohama and arrested by French autorities. Finally, they returned in France to be try.