Rōshigumi

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Rōshigumi
浪士組
Active October 19, 1862 (October 19, 1862)
Disbanded April 10, 1863 (April 10, 1863)
Country Japan
Allegiance Tokugawa bakufu
Size 234
Commanders
Commander Kyokawa Hachirō
Nominal Commander Matsudaira Katamori

The Rōshigumi (浪士組, meaning "the rōnin squad"), the "Kyoto Defenders", was a group of 234 masterless samurai (rōnin), founded by Kiyokawa Hachirō in 1862. Loyal to the Bakufu, they were supposed to act as the protectors of the Tokugawa shōgun, but were disbanded upon their arrival in Kyoto, Japan in 1863.

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

Kiyokawa Hachirō formed the Rōshigumi with funding from the Tokugawa bakufu in October 19, 1862. Originally, he claimed it was formed for protecting the Tokugawa shōgun in Kyoto and preparing for military action against Western countries. However, he lied to the regime; his goal was to gather people to work with the imperialists and not the shogunate government.

The Rōshigumi met on March 26 (lunar calendar February 8), 1863 in Edo and they all left for Kyoto. Kondō Isami, Hijikata Toshizō, Okita Sōji, Inoue Genzaburō, Tōdō Heisuke, Harada Sanosuke, Nagakura Shinpachi. Serizawa Kamo, Niimi Nishiki, Hirayama Gorou, Hirama Juusuke, and Noguchi Kengi were all among the members of the Rōshigumi. Two days later, while the Rōshigumi left for Kyoto, Kondo was responsible for assigning lodges for the members. However, he accidentally forgot about Serizawa's group, leading to a famous incident where Serizawa lost his temper and, with the help of his group, created a huge bonfire outside the lodges as an insult to Kondo.

Disbandement[edit]

On April 10 (lunar calendar February 23), 1863, the Rōshigumi arrived at Kyoto and the group stayed in Yagitei, a Mibu village outside Kyoto. Surprisingly, when they had just arrived in Kyoto, Kiyokawa suddenly commanded the group to return to Edo. By then, he had secretly submitted a letter to the imperialists stating that his Rōshigumi were to work only for the Emperor Kōmei.

Aftermath[edit]

The disbanded Rōshigumi members returned to Edo upon Kiyokawa's command. However, nineteen members dissented and stayed behind, including Kondō and Serizawa, mainly from the Mito clan, remained and formed the Mibu Rōshigumi (壬生浪士組). Initially, the Mibu Rōshigumi were called Miburō (壬生浪), meaning "rōnin of Mibu". At the time, Mibu was a village south west of Kyoto, and was the place where they were stationed. In August 18, 1863, the Mibu Rōshigumi was renamed the Shinsengumi (新選組, "New Selected Group").

In response, a Tokugawa bakufu official made spies out of former Rōshigumi members Tomouchi Yoshio and Iesato Jiro, and forced them to stay in Kyoto and join Serizawa and Kondo's group in order to keep an eye on them.

The other dissident members of the Rōshigumi who returned to Edo became the founding members of the Shinchōgumi (新徴組) (the Shinsengumi's brother league in Edo) with Okita Rintarō, the brother-in-law of Okita Sōji, as a commander.