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)
Deserters: Itou Kashitarou and Co.
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.
The Dying Wolves
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
End of 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