Little Bits of History

Defeat

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 15, 2015
Mongol fleet destroyed in a typhoon (ink and water on paper by Kikuchi Yosai)

Mongol fleet destroyed in a typhoon (ink and water on paper by Kikuchi Yosai)

August 15, 1281: The fleet of Kublai Khan is destroyed. The Mongol invasion of Japan was a series of attacks on the island nation from the mainland. Kublai Khan founded the Yuan dynasty in 1271 and by the next year was receiving information from King Chungnyeol encouraging an attack on Japan along with the use of a well prepared fleet. The first invasion took place in 1274. Kublai Khan had about 15,000 Mongol and Chinese soldiers along with 8000 Korean soldiers. Also under his command were 300 large ships and 400-500 smaller ones. They first landed on Tsushima Island and the Japanese were greatly outnumbered. They fought and lost. The island was overtaken and the next to be invaded was Iki with the same results the Mongols kept island hopping. This lasted for several islands and about two weeks.

The Mongols’ next landing was met with a better prepared army and they were able to drive off the Mongol armies. Thousands of Mongols were gathered at Torikai-Gata but the Japanese were able to match their armies and with reinforcements were able to defeat them with Mongolian casualties numbering about 13,500. After their defeat, they withdrew to their ships. The Japanese, seeing their advantage, attacked until the forces left entirely to return to the mainland. On their way home, they ran into a typhoon and many of their ships sank, killing those aboard. Preparations to relaunch an attack were underway by 1275. Diplomatic relations deteriorated and armament buildups ensued. In the spring of 1281, the Mongols sent two separate forces of 900 ships and 40,000 troops.

They waited in Korea while they met difficulties in getting supplies for their attacks. Food and fighting men were not as easy to amass as had been hoped. They set off and landed at Tsushima again, this time they were repelled. There were a number of skirmishes over the course of the summer but the Japanese, although outnumbered, were able to defend their homelands. As the Mongol ships were once more heading toward Japan, a kamikaze or divine wind swept over the seas. A massive typhoon which lasted two straight days destroyed much of Kublai Khan’s navy.

Today, it also theorized that much of the damage was exacerbated by the type of boats used. As they tried to amass their huge sailing contingent, they used whatever boats were available. These were hastily acquired flat-bottomed river boats built in Goryeo. The better ships for open water and able to withstand the storms were too expensive and the time needed for construction was too great. So the traditional ships or boats were used and these were less able to withstand storms because they are more easily able to capsize. With these added losses to what had been suffered over the course of the summer, Kublai Khan had to be content with leaving the East alone and turn his conquests in a different direction.

A defeat borne with pride is also a victory. – Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

The problems of victory are more agreeable than the problems of defeat, but they are no less difficult. – Winston Churchill

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt

We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated. – Maya Angelou

Also on this day: Yasgur’s Farm – In 1969, Woodstock began.
Requiem – In 1935, a plane crash killed Will Rogers and Wiley Post.
Military Precision – In 1995, Shannon Faulkner arrived at the Citadel.
Macbeth – In 1057, King Macbeth was killed.
Taliesin I – In 1914, Frank Lloyd Wright’s house was destroyed.

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