If you had had the time to see the Movie last night ITV 1 10.30pm The last samurai, which told the story of the character of Captain Nathan Algren who was supposed to be an America solider who helped the Japanese to fight the rebel group of samurai warriors during the mid-1860s to 1870s, the film critics said, that it was on the same lines as Dancing with Wolves you could say that it was a bit like Brave Heart with a sword.

If we don’t take the film to seriously then I supposed it was watchable, but was there really a so called “western samurai”

Suppose form a movie making angle, it would have not been as good, if the main lead was played by a Frenchman, but was there really a Frenchman wilding a sword around and fighting the famous, samurai, probably not, but there was a gentleman called Jules Brunet

Jules Brunet was a member of the first French military mission to be sent to the empire of Japan and ordered to help modernize the armies of the shogunate.Brunet was born in Belfort, in Alase (today in the Franche Comte region of eastern France). He graduated from the Ecole Polytechinque  in 1857, where he specialized in Artillery

Jules Brunet first participated in the french intervension of Mexico (1862-1867) sent by Napolean III, where he received the Legion d’honner. He then arrived in Yokohama in the beginning of 1867, as a member of the first French Miltray Mission to Japan.

Daimyos of the North have offered me to be its soul

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The military mission was able to train the army of Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobuwa for a little more than one year, before the Tokugawa showgunate lost to the Imperial forces in 1868 in the Boshin war. The French military mission was then ordered to leave Japan by Imperial decree.

 However, Jules Brunet chose to remain. He resigned from the French army, and left for the North of Japan with the remains of the Shogunate’s armies in the hope of staging a counter-attack. In a letter to Napolean III, Jules Brunet explained the plan of the Alliance, as well as his role in it:

“A revolution is forcing the Military Mission to return to France. Alone I stay, alone I wish to continue, under new conditions, the results obtained by the Mission, together with the Party of the North, which is the party favorable to France in Japan. Soon a reaction will take place, and the Daimyos of the North has offered me to be its soul. I have accepted, because with the help of one thousand Japanese officers and non-commissioned officers, our students, I can direct the 50,000 men of the Confederation.” Jules Brunet, Letter to Napoleon III.

The line in the note to Napoleon “Daimyos of the North has offered me to be its soul” I suppose form the film this must relate to the healing and under standing of the way of the samurai!

Jules Brunet took a very active role during the Boshin War, between partisans of the Shogun, with whom Brunet sided, and partisans of the restoration of Emperor Meiji. Jules and Cazenave were present at the Battle of Tuba- Faushimi . They left Osaka and returned to Edo on 12 January, together with Enomoto Takeaki onboard the Fujisan. Enomoto was bringing with him various documents, objects, and a treasure of 180,000 ryos from Osaka Castle. They arrived in Edo on 14 January.

After the fall of Edo, he fled north with Enomoto Takeaki, and helped set up the Ezo Republic with the leader of the Japanese shogunate’s navy, Enomoto Takeaki, as the President. He also helped organize the defense of Hokkaidō in the Battle of Hakodate. Troops were structured under a hybrid Franco-Japanese leadership, with Otori Keisuke as Commander-in-chief, and Jules Brunet as second in command. Each of the four brigades were commanded by a French officer (Fortant, Marlin, Cazeneuve,Bouffier), with eight Japanese commanders as second in command of each half-brigade.

The Final Stand 

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The final stand occurred in the northern island of Hokkaido, in the city of Hakodate, where in June 1869, the shogunate forces lost a final battle between 800 shogunate soldiers and an 8000-strong Imperial army.

In an interesting postscript to his involvement in the Boshin War, Brunet spoke highly of Shinsengumi vice-commander Hijikata Toshizo in his memoirs. Praising Hijikata’s ability as a leader, he said that if the man had been in Europe, he most certainly would have been a general.

Rehabilitation

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Jules Brunet, with the rest of the French soldiers, was evacuated by the French corvette Coëtlogon, commanded by Dupetit- Thouars, and then transferred to the Dupleix in Yokohama on which he was transported to Saigon. From Saigon he sailed to France onboard a commercial cruiser. Benefitting from popular support for his actions in Japan, Jules Brunet did not receive judgement, in spite of the Japanese request. He was quickly rehabilitated by the time of the Franco Prussian War (1870-1871), but was taken prisoner by the Germans at the Seize of Metz. After the war, he played a key role as a member of the Versailles Army in the suppression of the Paris insurrection of La Commune in 1871.

In May 1881 and again in March 1885, Jules Brunet received medals from the Meiji Emperor, which were given to him at the Japanese Embassy in Paris. It seems his former ally Eomoto Takeaki, then Minister of the Imperial Japanese Navey, played a key role in this late recognition.

 Jules Brunet rose to the position of General and Chief of Staff of the French army (“Chef d’Etat Major”) under the Minister of War Chanoine (his former senior officer at the French Military mission in Japan) thirty years later in 1898.

Jules Brunet was partly the inspiration for the character of Nathan Algren in the movie The Last Samurai, so it was true!!!!!!!

Jules Brunet (2 January 1838 – 12 August 1911)

This was the Last Sanurai Jules Brunet

This was the Last Sanurai Jules Brunet