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~ Part 4 ~


Some Internal Turbulence
But not everything was going fine in the Shinsengumi:
- Some months before, Yamanami Keisuke Tomonobu, one of the Kondou's friend since the Shieikan (Kondou's dojo) times and former Souchou ("Counselor") of the Shinsengumi, who tended towards Sonnou Joui as time went on and thus isolated by Kondou and Hijikita. He suddenly escaped from the troop which made him a traitor. He was then captured by Okita Souji and taken to Yagi's estate, where he committed seppuku, for breaking the 2nd Article of the Shinsengumi law. Yamanami called Okita, his very pursuer, and they met for the last time. Okita gave Yamanami a chance to escape, but he refused, accepting to go back to the Mibu headquarters and commit suicide. The harsh sentence imposed on Yamanami invoked the other members' dissatisfication, because Yamanami was a gentle, honest man, and many thought that Hijikata was being too harsh. This was also one of the factors which caused 15 members desert Shinsengumi together with Itou Kashitarou.

- Miura Keinosuke, a son of Sakuma Shouzan (one of the greatest thinkers during the Bakumatsu), was a source of skirmishes inside the Shinsengumi due to his insolent behavior.
- Matsubara Tadaji, Captain of the 4th Unit of the Shinsengumi, committed suicide because he got involved in a love affair.
- Kawai Kisaburou was executed because he couldn't justify a financial gap that he had created unwillingly.
- The Tani brothers (Mantarou, Sanjuurou and Kondou Shuuhei) were a major source of trouble. Tani Sanjuurou, Captain of the 7th Unit of the Shinsengumi, was eventually killed by Saitou Hajime, Captain of the 3rd Unit of the Shinsengumi.
- Tauchi Tomo was executed because he was wounded by the lover of his woman.

The Shinsengumi changed its headquarters to the Nishi Hongan Temple, earning also the hatred of the temple's monks, especially of Nishimura Kanefumi, who later compiled the first data about the Shinsengumi. After some months, the Shinsengumi changed its headquarters again, establishing at a place that the Temple had especially built for the Shinsengumi. Takeda Kanryuusai, Captain of the 5th Unit of the Shinsengumi, was trying to escape the Shinsengumi and join forces with Satsuma. He was killed by Saitou Hajime. Finally, there were many people attempting to escape the Shinsengumi due to the harshness of the laws, and there were many people being executed. (However, Yamanami Keisuke fled from the Shinsengumi not because of the harshness of the Shinsengumi laws)

The Deserters: Itou Kashitarou and Co.
But the major affair that happened was, no doubts about it, the leaving of the Itou group from the Shinsengumi on March 10th, 3rd Year of the Keiou Era (1867). The people who left were:

Itou Kashitarou
Hattori Takeo
Abe Juurou
Tomiyama Yabee
Nakanishi Nobori
Suzuki Mikisaburou
Arai Tadao
Kanou Michinosuke (Washio)
Hashimoto Kaisuke
Nakaumi Jirou
Shinohara Tainoshin
Toudou Heisuke
Kiyohara Kiyoshi
Mounai Kanmotsu (Yuunosuke/Arinosuke)
Saitou Hajime

However, the 2nd Article of the Shinsengumi Law remained true: "It is not allowed to leave the Shinsengumi". Therefore, Kondou Isami and Hijikata Toshizou got a spy infiltrated in the Itou group, known as "Koudaiji Party", later "Goryou Eji". The spy was the Captain of the 3rd Unit of the Shinsengumi, Saitou Hajime, who sent detailed information while disguising himself as a heavy drunker who even robbed money to go to the pleasure quarters.Then on November 18th, The Itou group was annihilated at the affair known as "Aburanokoji no Kettou", the "Fight to Death at the Aburanokoji". Many of the Itou group survived, but the key figures, like Itou Kashitarou, Hattori Takeo and Toudou Heisuke, were killed in the episode. Saitou Hajime was much hated because of this, for the Itou party discovered - too late - who was the spy. In the manuscripts left by Mounai Yuunosuke, it's written clearly, "The one to be loathed is Saitou Hajime". But the incident at Aburanokoji wasn't forgotten, and on December 18th, Okita Souji escaped being killed and Kondou Isami was shot in the shoulder by the remaining people of the Itou party.

Shinsengumi: The Dying Wolves
Shinsengumi However, no matter how hard Kondou and Hijikata tried, the Shinsengumi was already on the way to its end, due to the numerous political affairs that were happening at that time. In January, 2nd Year of the Keiou Era, the "Sacchou Doumei", the alliance between Satsuma and Choushuu, was established by Sakamoto Ryoma, Katsura Kogorou and Saigou Takamori. On October 14th, 3rd Year of the Keiou Era, the last Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, returned the political power to the hands of the Emperor, which became known as "Taisei Houkan". And on December 9th, the Emperor assumed the political power - the "Ousei Fukko".

On November 15th, 3rd Year the Keiou Era, Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintarou were murdered at the Oumi-ya. Immediately, people gossiped that the murderers were Miburo - the Shinsengumi. As a proof, a sheath that was found at the place was said to belong to Harada Sanosuke, and a shoe that a Shinsengumi member had borrowed the night before was found in the garden. As a result, every Tosa men came to hate the Shinsengumi. But in the 2nd Year of the Meiji Era, a man of the Kyoto Mimawarigumi confessed that the Kyoto Mimawarigumi members, led by Sasaki Tadasaburou, had murdered Sakamoto and Nakaoka. The Sakamoto murder influenced a lot the next affair, the last that the Shinsengumi was involved in Kyoto before the Boshin War. The Tosa men believed that Miura Yasutarou had manipulated the Shinsengumi to kill Sakamoto, so they laid plans to kill him. And on December 7th, 3rd Year of the Keiou Era, the Shinsengumi was involved in the "Tenmaya Affair", an attempt to murder Miura. However, as Miura was guarded by Hijikata Toshizou, Saitou Hajime, Harada Sanosuke, Yoshimura Kan-Ichirou, Kishima Yoshitarou and Souma Kazue, he escaped from the hands of death.

At last, about five p.m., January 3rd, 4th year of the Keiou Era (1868), a cannon shot triggered the last and greatest battle of the Bakumatsu. It was the Battle of Toba and Fushimi, the first battle of the "Boshin Sensou" ("Boshin War"). The Shisengumi took part in it, obviously, and suffered heavy losses, having about thirty casualties, including Inoue Genzaburou Kazushige, the Captain of the 6th Unit of the Shinsengumi, and Yamazaki Susumu, leader of the Shinsengumi spies. The Shinsengumi retreated to the Osaka Castle and then to Edo (Tokyo), but Yoshimura Kan-Ichirou stayed and, having denied his request to go back to his fief, he committed seppuku. After the battle of Toba and Fushimi, the Shinsengumi regrouped again in Edo (Tokyo), and the third hierarchy of the Shinsengumi was established. This time, the Shinsengumi had only 44 members:

Taichou ("Commander"):
Kondou Isami Masanobu (Masayoshi) (Edo Gyofunai Dappan, Tennen Rishin Style Teacher)

Fukuchou ("Executive Officer" or "Vice Commander"):
Hijikata Toshizou Yoshitoyo (Edo Gyofunai Dappan, Tennen Rishin Style Mokuroku)

Fukuchou Jokin("Captain and Aide of the Vice Commander"):
Okita Souji (Soushi) Kaneyoshi (Fusanaga) (Shirakawa Dappan, Tennen Rishin Style Menkyo Kaiden)
Nagakura Shinpachi Noriyuki (Matsumae Dappan, Shintou Munen Style Menkyo Kaiden)
Harada Sanosuke (Iyomatsuyama Dappan, Taneda Houzouin Style Menkyo Kaiden)
Ogata Shuntarou (Kumamoto Roushi, a scholar)
Saitou Hajime (Banshuu Akashi Roushi, master of the Mugai Style)

Roushi Chouyaku (Investigations Division):
Ooishi Kuwajirou
Kawamura Hayato

Gochou ("Corporal"):
Shimada Kai
Hayashi Nobutarou
Kohara Kouzou
Kondou Gisuke
Shimura Takezou
Kumebe Masachika
Ozeki Seiichirou
Maeno Gorou
Nakamura Kosaburou

Kaikeigata (Accounting Division):
Kishijima Yutarou
Yauchi Kennosuke
Nakamura Gendou
Ootani Isao
Yasutomi Saisuke
Kanzaki Kazujizou

The End of Shinsengumi
And on February 28th, the Bakufu formed the "Kouyou Chinbutai", based on the Shinsengumi. However, when the "Kouyou Chinbutai" was formed, most of the Shinsengumi members had fled, having only about 20 members. On March 6th, the Kouyou Chinbutai battled in Katsunuma, trying to defeat the "Kangun" (Meiji Ishin Army) in the Koufu Castle, but they lost. Already many had fled also from the Kouyou Chinbutai, realizing that they were in a hopeless battle.       

The Shinsengumi retreated from the battle, gathering at the estate of Ookubo Shuzen. However, when they decided that the Shinsengumi would head to Aizu, Kondou and Hijikata had a violent discussion with Nagakura and Harada. Thus, they split a six-year partnership. Harada Sanosuke and Nagakura Shinpachi formed the Seiheitai and headed to Aizu, but Harada left the Seiheitai and went to Edo, joining the Shougitai.

On April 1st, the Shinsengumi changed its headquarters from Edo to Nagareyama. And on April 3rd, they were surrounded by the Kangun (Army of the Emperor - the Army of the Satsuma and Choushuu). Kondou Isami, disguised as Ookubo Yamato, went to apologise for shooting against the Kangun, but Arima Fujita knew Kondou Isami and such disguise fell to the ground. He was arrested, and despite Arima Fujita's efforts, Kondou Isami was treated as a most despicable man by Kagawa Keizou and Tani Tateki (Moribe), two men who hated the Shinsengumi since the murder of Sakamoto Ryoma. Finally, on April 25th, 4th Year of the Keiou Era (1868), Kondou Isami was beheaded in Itabashi. He was 35.

Meanwhile, Okita Souji, due to his TBC (tuberculosis), was still in Edo. Everybody was surprised at his naturality, always joking and laughing, despite his imminent death. However he was reduced to little more than skin and bone. When the news about Kondou Isami's death reached Edo, nobody told him about Kondou Isami's death, and Okita kept asking about Kondou Isami till the very end. Eventually, on May 30th, he died after trying to slay a black cat. He was 25.      

In April, 4th Year of the Keiou Era (1st Year of the Meiji Era), Hijikata joined forces with Ootori Keisuke, forming the last Army of the Bakufu. They fought in the Utsunomiya, but they lost again to the Kangun, and they retreated to Aizu. On April 5th, Hijikata led the Shinsengumi to Aizu, and met Matsudaira Katamori. In the next day, the Shinsengumi was sent to help the Bakufu forces in Shirakawa, but given Hijikata's wounds, Yamaguchi Jirou (Saitou Hajime) became the leader of the Shinsengumi, who adopted guerilla tactics against the overwhelming Army of the Emperor. Nevertheless, the Shinsengumi lost the battle of Bonari on August 21st, and retreated to Aizu Wakamatsu Castle. And on September 4th, the Shinsengumi, led by Saitou Hajime, engaged in a fierce battle, where almost everyone from the twenty members of the Shinsengumi died. However, Saitou Hajime survived and lived to see the Meiji Era (as we all know in Rurouni Kenshin he will become a police officer)         

On October 20th, Hijikata Toshizou and the last members of the Shinsengumi arrived in Hokkaido, establishing the Goryoukaku as their HQ. On December 15th, Hijikata was appointed as Army Minister of the newly founded Ezo country, who had Enomoto Takeaki as its ruler. However, it was obvious that the Meiji Government would not let it be, and in the following year (1869), 2nd Year of the Meiji Era, the Kangun started attacking Hokkaido. Hijikata led the Shinsengumi to some victories, but eventually he had to retreat back to Hakodate, on May 1st. On May 11th, the Meiji Government Army started its final attack, and Hijikata died from a gunshot wound during the battle. He was 35, and Hijikata's death marks the end of the Shinsengumi

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