E US campaign of massive bombing of all North Korean cities in the war is the major contributor to the huge disparity For every death recorded multiply by 2 or 3 for the injured and maimed Seems hardly worth it to return to the status uo All it proved is that the US with NATO was willing to make sacrifices to block national dominos from falling But in the mind of most enemy soldiers they were defending their homeland and the sense of threat felt by the PRC over American occupation of a Beyond Varallan land at their borders might be comparable to the US stance if China or Russia were to invade Mexico Regardless of the politics and whether you consider the fateful invasion of North Korea a tragic mistake the contribution and sacrifices of soldiers on both sides should not be forgotten Ironically the civil war never technically ended Amid all the Trumpery involving Korea this year a small step forward was made when the presidents of the two Koreas met at the demilitarized zone in April and pledged to forge a peace treaty within a year s timeIn its excellent balance between coverage of the big picture of a war at theevel of generals and politicians while weaving the human story of those in desperate combat this book shares many of the virtues of Sides Ghost Soldiers his previous history of the Battle of Bataan and successful rescue of survivors from a Japanese prison camp by an intrepid group of commandos Sides excels in marshalling all available resources and his own interviews with participants to create a narrative as readable as a good novel Unlike that book he didn t delve much into the actions of the adversaries of the Americans or even into the stories of their allies One exception is the details on the ife of a Seoul medical student who was born in the north and eagerly served as a translator for the NATO forces This book was provided for review by Doubleday If you want a bit of a preview check out the excellent PBS documentary film the Battle of Choisin for which Sides served as a consultant and commentator Hampton Sides in one of those authors whose books automatically goes to the top of my TBR ist His ook at the first 6 months of the Korean War and the Marines escape from the Chosin Reservoir does not disappoint This narrative really begins with MacArthur s great gamble the invasion at Inchon and the subseuent iberation of Seoul In telling this story Mr Sides relates the unreasonable time table MacArthur set Seoul had to Dona Flor liberated by 25 Sep the 3 month anniversary of North Korea s Invasion and how it dictated the Marines tactics The commander of X Corps the 1st Marine Divisions higher H MG Ned Almond s was in complete agreement with it As with most other accounts of Inchon and Chosin Almond comes off badly With the capture of Seoul he is show to be completely in agreement with MacA and when the Marine Commander MG OP Smith objects basically tells him to shut up and soldier His distain for non white troops is also highlighted As the action moves north of the 38th Parallel the X Corp is moved to other side of Korea and the race to the Yalu beginsAs he tells the beginning of the movement north the author does a good job relating the total disregard the National Command Authority all the way up to Pres Truman had for Mao and his threat to intervene in Korea He also does a good job of relating the pressure Gen Almond put on Gen Smith to pick up the pace in the race for the YaluThe story really picks up when the Chinese finally come in for real Mr Sides makes excellent use of first hand accounts to tell the story of both the advance to and the retreat from the reservoir during that awful freezing cold NovemberDecember In telling the story of the battle the author focuses on the defense of the pass between the Marines advanced units at Yudam ni the Division H at Hagaru ri the Tokong Pass Part of the story of the defense of pass is the story of the Chinese American Lt Chew Een whoed the relief effort of the Marines holding the Pass He Rocker Babies Wear Jeans led the relief force cross country using a map and compass and dressed himself in aircraft recognition panels as to be easily seen The story of the Tokong pass is horrifying at the same time it is inspiring Marines refused to be evacuated even with injuries that would seem to be fatal In telling this part of the story the author relates probably the only advantage of the extreme cold ititerally stopped the bleedingAmong the other stories Mr Sides recounts is the destruction of the Army s Task Force Faith on the eastern side of the reservoir In contrast to the commonly held belief Mr Sides recounts an heroic defense and says that the Task Force really didn t fall apart until their ammunition was almost exhausted and their commander killed that five days The story of Task Force Drysdale when a British Marine Commando ed an attempt to reinforce the Division H also figures prominently in the narrative In spite suffering major casualties Drysdale managed to get 300 reinforcements ess than 12 of the troops that Sono with Visits from the Seventh left Koto ri to the Division H Yet another story in the narrative is the rebuilding of the bridge at the Funchiin Pass allowing the Marines to escape down the MSRWhile telling the story of the bridging of the pass the author tells of the how the Marines AF and Army improvised a method of delivering sections of Baily bridges and when the stress of vehicles moving over the bridge threatened to cause it s collapse how the engineers reinforced the bridge with plywood and other scrapumber then iterally used the frozen bodies of their enemies for ballast to stabilize the bridge While Mr Sides is scathing of MG Almond in the run up to the Chosin he does give credit where credit is due He states that during *the retreat Almond did everything possible to aid the MarinesOne of the best and most inspiring of the accounts Mr *retreat Almond did everything possible to aid the MarinesOne of the best and most inspiring of the accounts Mr relates is that of the first African American naval aviator Ens Jesse Brown and his wingman LT Thomas Hudner Ens Brown is shot down and trapped in his ac while providing CAS to the Marines and LT Hunder deliberately crash ands his aircraft near him in an attempt to free him from his ac and rescue him He is unable to extract Brown from his aircraft even when help arrives in a helicopter Hudner stays with Brown until he dies For his efforts he is awarded the Medal of HonorIn summary while the battle was not a strategic or tactical victory it was a moral one The 1st Marine Division destroyed the better part of 10 CCA divisions and manged to get away with their euipment and wounded Mr Sides does an excellent job of recounting how the Marines arrived in that God Forsaken part of North Korea the devastating cold they faced and importantly how they got out devastating their opponents at the same time This is a fantastic read and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in wars or warriors I would rate this a 425 star read I am giving this book 5 stars The 5 star rating for me means the book possesses a WOW factors and this book certainly had me expressing that sentiment on several occasions To begin with I have to confess that 20th century wars generally do not have a great deal of appeal for me as they tend to have been overly done by popular media Conseuently I do not know much about the Korean War and surprisingly this war didn t seem to get the usual media exposure of wars fought after the invention of movies television and the internet The only movie I can recall about the Korean War was Gregory Peck in Pork Chop Hill It has been called the Forgotten War and that really is true I read Jeff Shaara s historical fiction regarding the same subject ast year and that book opened my eyes and awareness to the battle depicted in these pages A Chinese soldier armed with a rifle climbed onto the bed of the truck He came to the first man eveled the barrel between his eyes and fired He moved on to the next Then the nextEd Reeves sat up half out of his sleeping bag and watched as though to the next Then the nextEd Reeves sat up half out of his sleeping bag and watched as though were movie He didn t know any of these Americans especially well he d just shared the bed of a truck with them for a day and a half but he was in awe of them They didn t beg or cry they didn t utter so much as a whimper They Heroes Adrift (Hero, looked their executioner in the eye and died with dignityWhen the barrel slid over to Reeves he felt strangely at peace His eyes followed the smooth metal until they found the eyes of the soldier Reeves did not see malice in them He was a kid following horrible orders Possibly from his point of view it was a mission of mercy get it over with in an instant rather thanet them slowly freeze to death The soldier was standing no than three feet away when he sueezed the trigger The muzzle blast knocked Reeves to the floor Then the barrel swung over to the next man Hampton Sides On Desperate Ground The Marines at the Reservoir the Korean War s Greatest BattleThe Korean War occupies a strange place in American military history sandwiched between World War II the good war and Vietnam the bad war It was fought for nebulous reasons many contemporary accounts from ordinary soldiers stress their uncertainty of purpose and ended in a draw with the North KoreanChinese forces on the one side and the South KoreanUN forces on the other essentially reverting to the status uo ante bellum It is a relatively forgotten conflict or police action whose essential importance has only been demonstrated by the fullness of timeWhile the Korean War in general does not occupy a prominent place in the public consciousness its most famous battle certainly does In November 1950 the North Korean forces were on the run After early stunning successes Douglas MacArthur s Chuck and Danielle landing at Inchon flipped the field and sent them scrambling northward Despite the threat of Chinese intervention MacArthur pursued sending three columns toward the Yalu River In the broken terrain of the Taeback Mountains in the midst of a terrible winter the Chinese forces that MacArthur believed would stay out of the war arrived in force At the Chosin Reservoir the American X Corps including the men of the First Marine Division found themselves surrounded by thousands of Chinese soldiers Over the next seventeen days a brutal fighting retreat ensued comprising one of the great epics in the annals of warfare Hampton Sides On Desperate Ground tells this story in gripping almost cinematic fashion This 337 page book is taut fast paced and novelistic in its details Employing brief chapters Sides provides a broad stripped down overview of the Korean War that sets the stage for the Chosin drama Even if you ve never read a word on the subject Sides ensures that you have enough context to understand what is going on The centerpiece of course is the battle itself and Sides effortlessly deploys his immense storytelling skills There are someimitations though For instance Sides does not attempt to provide a comprehensive account of the fight around the Chosin Reservoir Instead he focuses on General Oliver Prince Smith and the First Marines Undoubtedly this will further stoke inter service rivalries as the plight of the Army with the exception of a brief interlude with Task Forth Faith is mostly ignored Further Sides is interested in the experiences of the men rather than the tactical ebb and flow of the battle If you want to know about every single maneuver or desire an extensive recounting of the positioning of troops down to the Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old last platoon you are not going to find that here Sides gives you the basics but that s all Instead he follows individuals providing engrossing mini arcs of men under impossible duress battling the enemy and the cold And that is the beating heart of On Desperate Ground This is a grunt s eye view of ferocious combat that often became hand to hand and face to face There is for example Lieutenant John Yancey of Company E charged with defending Hill 1282 against waves of Chinese troops In the midst of this action a Chinese attacker armed with a Thompson submachine gun moved in close and sueezed a burst into Yancey s face One of the bullets entered Yancey s cheek just below his eye and angled down through his sinus cavities coming to rest in the back of his neck near the base of his skull Luckily it had missed his spine but along the way the projectile had fractured his cheekbone jarredoose numerous teeth and dislocated his jaw Worst of all the bullet pried Yancey s right eye from the socket The ball dangling by a cord of nerves and fibers rested high on his cheekbone Yet somehow Yancey was still functioning He picked himself up from the. Rtainty would not intervene in the war As he was speaking 300000 Chinese soldiers began crossing the border Led by the 13000 men of the 1st Marine Division the Americans moved far north into the trap Mao had set for the arrogant MacArthur at the Chosin Reservoir What followed was one of the most heroic and harrowing operations in American military history Faced with annihilation and temperatures plunging to 20 degrees below zero the surrounded Marines fought through. ,
Hampton Sides á 0 SUMMARY,
Snow and with his good eye spied his assailant reloading his Thompson Reflexively Yancey snatched his45 pistol from its holsterand fired two rounds into the enemy soldier s abdomen killing him Then Yancey horrified but not knowing what else to do cradled his eyeball and gently mashed it back into its ragged hole On Desperate Ground is a technically flawless book It is popular history at its best rousing entertaining informative It never bogs down never gets tangled in minutiae Indeed it seems designed for mass appeal with the Marine centric narrative the bite sized chapters and the brutal evocations of combat This is an unabashed tale of heroism and sacrifice of men against fire and cold This is one of those books I feel comfortable guaranteeing If you pick this up you will not regret it And yet I have to add that I am mildly disappointed Somewhere my wife is shaking her head knowing that I Dogs Behaving Badly: An A-Z Guide to Understanding and Curing Behavorial Problems in Dogs live most of myife in a state of mild disappointment Hampton Sides is at his absolute best when he is working with unknown stories from a daring POW rescue in Ghost Soldiers to the doom of the Navajos in Blood and Thunder to the tragic Arctic expedition of the USS Jeanette in In the Kingdom of Ice He has a knack for digging deeper for illuminating some of the small corners of history that tend to get Gray Bishop lost in shadow He does not get a chance to put those skills to use here The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir is not an unknown story To the contrary it has been told and retold numerous times Sides provides a beautiful presentation but does not reveal anything new Certainly he has done his job in interviewing participants However at thisate date I do not know how much these interviews add to what we already know Most of the stories featured prominently in On Desperate Ground have been covered before extensively Just recently an entire book was released about Fox Company s bloody hilltop stand The Last Stand of Fox Company Likewise with Jesse LeRoy Brown a black Corsair pilot shot down while providing air cover Devotion More than that Sides does not really have anything to say about the battle other than that it was an extreme test of endurance He is content to repeat the conclusions found in other secondary sources especially Martin Russ Breakout This is an exceptional example of narrative nonfiction done right Yet I cannot help wishing that Sides had used his considerable talents as both a historian and a writer to highlight some other aspect of the Korean War The men of the Frozen Chosin especially the Marines have their monuments Almost seventy years after Kim Il Sung s Puckster's First Hockey Sweater legions poured over the 38th Parallel we have a better idea of what a North Korean victory in 1950 might have meant That knowledge adds considerably to the deeds of the South Korean US and UN troops that held theine Sides would have been doing a valuable historical service if he had ooked a ittle harder for the unsung heroes Yeah this is the book There aren t many authors who can keep my bedside Liar lamp burning until 0300 hrs on a workday but that s what happened to this one Any good war story has to have a mixture of brass officers strategy planning and balls grunts action blood and guts brotherhood Hampton Sides has mixed these ingredients in just the right combination which is about one part brass to three parts ballsSides spends a bit of time explaining what we already knew that MacArthur was as crazy as a shithouse rat an officer whooved to be in the rear with the gear surrounded by sycophants His real effort is expended in relating the heroic battles of the USMC against overwhelming Chinese forces in the battle for the Chosin Reservoir commonly called the Frozen Chosin I m not going to relate any exploits here Sides has already done that for you in his book Suffice to say that these Noir leathernecks are a bunch of tough hombres and there s enough action here to satisfy even Lee Ermey God rest hiseathery old soul I Renovate: Changing Who You Are by Loving Where You Are ll give the Sarge his due since he was snubbed by Hollywood this yearSides also covers the famous retreat possible only by American ingenuity and the fact that they had tons of gear they could use to just miracle bridges out of seemingly thin air Probably no other country at that time could have pulled off that retreat simply for want of the euipmentThe author has generously provided us with photos pertinent to the text on glossy paper thank you very much And a map of the area on the inside of the cover where I found it eventually after cursing theack of a mapA couple of passages amused me or raised my eyebrow One occurs on page 113 where Sides is trying to impress upon us the terrible cold that the Marines faced at the Chosin Reservoir Overnight temperatures went into free fall Within a few hours the mercury plummeted forty degrees to nearly ten below zero FahrenheitWell that s kinda cold I guessif you don t have a jacket or something Around these parts 10 is a bloody heat wave And combatant reports of small arms fire kicking up waterspouts from the ice on the reservoir indicates that maybe the Chosin wasn t as frozen as we might think And on page 193 I found Some of the UN units were performing valiantly especially a brigade of Turks who had surprised everyone with their resilience and ferocity I wondered why any General would be surprised by Turkish ferocityit s not ike it hasn t been well documented Ask the Aussies about dealing with Johnny Turk in WWIOverall I think this is about as close to perfect as a war book can get Sides gets the meat of the story over efficiently and in a captivating manner I could have done without the photo of Chesty Puller thoughhe scares hell right outta me Sides always does a great job of humanizing conflicts of war by selecting a handful of individuals and focusing on their specific experiences In On Desperate Ground Sides follows historical figures such as General MacArthur and President Truman to provide big picture context but the meat of the book which provides the strongest images of the conflict for the reader follows the Army and Marine grunts on the ground It is the experiences of these men that bring the ugliness of warfare to ight The Chosin Reservoir was a remarkable battle for multiple reasons In one respect it illuminates the conseuences of hubris particularly on the part of MacArthur and Almond but it also illustrates the pride and valor of the United States Armed Forces This was the United States version of Xenophon s march of the ten thousand something that Sides references multiple times as well and it really is a remarkable readIt is embarrassing how Circumstantial Evidence little I knew about the Korean War up to this point On Desperate Ground is a well crafted introduction into the war and its greatest battle Even if you are already familiar with The Chosin Reservoir read this Hampton Sidesatest book ON DESPERATE GROUND THE MARINES AT THE RESERVOIR THE KOREAN WAR S GREATEST BATTLE has met or even surpassed the high standards for excellent narrative history that he has set in his previous works The book is based on extensive interviews memoirs command of secondary sources and the ability to place the reader along side historical decision makers and the soldiers who carried out their orders Whether Sides is writing about James Earl Ray and the assassination of Martin Luther King the Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers last survivors of the Bataan Death March a biography of Kit Carson or theate 19th century voyage of the USS Jeanette to the unchartered Artic waters he tells his stories with uncanny historical accuracy and incisive analysisIn his current effort Sides conveys the authenticity and intensity of war on the Korean peninsula His portrayal of the bravery of America soldiers is clear and unsettling as the realism of combat is aid bare for all to see At times it is difficult to comprehend what these soldiers were able to overcome and reading the book during the week of Veteran s Day makes Sides work that relevantSides integrates all the important historical figures into his narrative including American Marines and members of the US Army We meet the egotistical General Douglas MacArthur and his staff of sycophants and supplicants MacArthur can carry out the Inchon anding against all odds but this A Chicken in Every Yard: The Urban Farm Store's Guide to Chicken Keeping logistical miracle seems to fuel is insatiable need for further glory Fed by menike General Ned Almond whose main goal was to carry out MacArthur s wishes sluffing off any advice or criticism by other planners the only result could be the disaster that encompassed American soldiers at the Chosin Reservoir and along the Yalu River Disregarding intelligence that the Chosin Reservoir and along the Yalu River Disregarding intelligence that against his own staff MacArthur and Almond would push on disregarding and ignoring contrary opinions President Harry Truman appears and seems to go along with MacArthur particularly at the Wake Island Conference until proof emerges that over 250000 Chinese Communist soldiers have poured into North Korea from mid October 1950 onwardPerhaps Sides most revealing portrait in explaining how American soldiers met disaster in the Chosin Reservoir region was his comparison of the views of Major General Oliver Prince Smith the Commander of the First Marine Division a by the book Marine who described MacArthur as a man with a solemn regard for his own divinity and Major General Edward Ned Almond MacArthur s Chief of Staff All Almond cared about was speed disregarding the obstacles that Smith faced in planning MacArthur s assault on northern Korea Smith was a deliberate and fastidious planner who resented Almond s constant goading He felt that Almond strutted around Island of the Lost Horses (Dora and Friends) like MacArthur and made pronouncements based on minimum intelligence Almond was a racist who down played the abilities of Hispanic American troops and thought veryittle of the fighting ability of the Chinese For Almond s part he viewed Smith as an impediment to his overall goals of carrying out MacArthur s wishes He believed that Smith was overly concerned with planning minutiae and his deliberate approach detracted from his grand plansSides portrayals of American soldiers and the their character provides insights and provide a mirror for the reader into the person s abilities and their impact on their units individual bravery and the success or failure of their unit battalion or company s mission Studies of Lee Bae Suk a Chinese American who escaped North Korea as a teenager and enlisted in the Marines Captain William Earl Barber Commander of Company F 2nd Battalion role protecting the Toktong Pass a key route to the Chosin Reservoir and a
student of Sun Tzu as was Mao Zedong the exploits of Seventh Marines Company E known asof Sun Tzu as was Mao Zedong the exploits of Seventh Marines Company E known as Commander First Lieutenant John Yancy at Hill 1282 Lieutenant Chew Een who Summer Meditations led the column to rescue Fox Company encircled by Chinese troops the Jersey contingent of private Kenneth Benson and Private Hector Cafferata Jr s heroism in Fox Company Lieutenant Thomas Hudner who would earn the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery for his attempt to rescue Ensign Jesse Brown who hailed from a Mississippi sharecroppers background to become the first African American fighter pilot in the US Navy are among many along with other portrayals that are eye opening as so many soldiers continued to fight on against all odds despite wounds that would not have allowed most to even stand uprightSides description of combat is almost pure in of itself but completely unnerving A prime example is the fight for Hill 1282 and the rescue attempt of Fox Company The Chinese would attack American soldiers in human waves by the thousands payingittle or no attention to casualties as Marines repeatedly cut them down The carnage and SUFFERING ARE HARD TO COMPREHEND AS are hard to comprehend as the bravery of US Marines fighting in sub zero temperatures in the middle of the night to protect a small piece of geography in northern Korea against an enemy God Said, Ha!: A Memoir lacking in communications using the unnerving sounds of bugles cymbals whistles and such to organize their attacks Battles are seen through the eyes of the participants and the will and desire of each man is on full displaySides has written an excellent narrative military history but on anotherevel he has produced a study that highlights the relationship between men in combat and how they rely upon each other for their survival It is a book about heroes the idiocy of war and the incompetence of decision making by people at the top who are willing to send men to their deaths in many cases without batting an eye The book reads ike a novel but it presents history as truth that cannot be denied or dismissed. The enemy forces with ferocity ingenuity and nearly unimaginable courage Hampton Sides's superb account of the battle relies on years of archival research and interviews with scores of Marines and Koreans who survived the siege While expertly chronicling the follies of the American eaders this is an immediate grunt's eye view of history enthralling in its narrative pace and powerful in its portrayal of what ordinary men are capable of in the most extreme circumstanc. This is the best account of the Chosin Reservoir battle I have read Sides is an excellent historian and his exhaustive research shows But than that Sides knows how to weave individual stories into the broad overview and still keep the narrative pace moving smartly alongChosin was the site of the first major engagement between the United Nations coalition force commanded by the vainglorious Gen Douglas MacArthur and Mao Zedong s People s Volunteer Army Gen Oliver Smith of the First Marine Division spearheaded the effort North Korea had started the war five months earlier when it invaded the South United Nations forces pushed the North Koreans back beyond the 38th parallel and MacArthur thought he could defeat the North Koreans decisively so as to reunite the country But when the Americans got closer to the Chinese border Mao decided to intervene in a BIG way shifting 300000 troops to the Korean peninsula from a planned engagement with Taiwan These troops were ill prepared for the brutal cold and acked even sufficient guns Indeed the most common guns were American ones scavenged from the Nationalists who had ost to the CommunistsGen MacArthur completely underestimated the Chinese s fighting prowess and disregarded his own intelligence reports indicating that the Chinese had crossed the Yulu River into North Korea Gen Smith was not so sanguine and did his best to prepare for the worst while still following orders from headuarters Those efforts allowed for one of military history s greatest tactical retreats The battle was fought in extreme cold dipping to 25 degrees Fahrenheit on occasion And as my Marine son said after cold weather training in Canada Hell is not hot it is cold The cold caused the radios to not work properly so communication was dicey The only positive thing that could be said about such cold was that it helped to cauterize woundsThe butcher s bill was huge Casualties totaled 10000 some 4300 of them Marines More than 7000 other Marines suffered noncombat injuries primarily frostbite By contrast the Chinese reported roughly 50000 killed or wounded Highly recommend Sun Tzu says in The Art of War that in battle there are nine kinds of situations nine kinds of grounds The final and most distressing type is a situation in which one s army can be saved from destruction only by fighting without delay It is a place without shelter and no possibility of easy retreat If met by the enemy an army has no alternative but to surrender or fight its way out of its predicament Sun Tzu calls this desperate ground Hampton Sides On Desper Once again Hampton Sides does not disappoint This was a uniuely engaging in parts riveting and easily accessible slice of military history nicely placed in time and place and context seasoned splendidly with just enough human interest to ramp up the empathy but not distract and as is the case with his other stuff efficiently written so it feels as if the pages are turning themselvesI m ong past the point of being objective about Sides work he s one of my favorite non fiction authors full stop He won me over with Ghost Soldiers and in some ways this felt to be cut from the same cloth even if the underlying story was on the one hand broader yet seemingly Operation Iceberg : The Invasion and Conquest of Okinawa in World War II less epic This isn t necessarily the kind of stuff I expect that folks will be assigned to read in the military s senior service schools but it s still incredibly informative as military history goesI ve read much muchess about the Korean War than by comparison Vietnam or World War II and for that matter World War I or even the Revolutionary or Civil Wars I m sure there are reasons for that but as a result while much of this was familiar as always MacArthur remains a uniuely polarizing figure and times than not I consider Truman insufficiently appreciated there were plenty of stories within the story which were totally new to meI Arrows of the Night: Ahmad Chalabi's Long Journey to Triumph in Iraq look forward to reading whatever Sides publishes next What a treat to have Sides create a narrative for us on a tough job our soldiers had in Korea and gather in someessons relevant to our precarious position today in that part of the world I ve had nothing but 5 star reads with this talented storyteller and history sleuth and this one continues that tradition His major focus here is on a critical campaign that almost started World War 3 namely MacArthur s initiative after Michelin Green Guide Normandy landing at Inchon and retaking Seoul to invade North Korea and win the war with a drive to the Yalu River boundary with China This triggered People s Republic of China s deployment of than 200000 troops across the Manchurian border About 120000 of these soldiers surrounded the 20 thousand or so American Marine and Army troops around the Choisin Reservoir properly Changjin These men had been sent to the austere mountainous region with a fragile supplyine in the form of a 78 mile stretch of two ane road back to the port of Hungnam with many vulnerable choke points and a critical bridge From the perspective of key officers and enlisted men Sides delivers a well crafted and harrowing story of how the Marine and Army troops held up to being surrounded and assaulted by overwhelming forces and boldly pulled off a successful fighting retreat Along the way he covers enough of the whole war and antecedent events to provide a good context to this major turning pointIn addition to excessive enemies the trapped UN forces faced the extreme challenges of the terrain and the winter weather As can be seen below the Choisin Reservoir region is rough country for the ogistics of combat and few soldiers beset there had any alpine warfare training or experience And winter in high country there meant temperatures that often got to 20F It s hard to convey the personal impact of such cold better than the following face You could imagine the difficulties of digging a foxhole in such weather the constant threat of frostbite and challenges of treating the wounded Despite these challenges advantages the UN forces included better clothing and weapons than the Chinese and Communist Koreans and in clear weather total dominance of the skies for air strikes and supply drops The following map can provide some geographical perspective and illustrate the main phases of the war In the bottom right you can see how far the North Korean army had pushed the South Korean and occupying UN forces by September 1950 to a small region around Pusan The brutal urban warfare eading to the oss of Seoul and desperate retreat to the south was well covered in another comprehensive book about the war David Halberstam s masterful The Coldest Winter America and the Korean War You can see how the invasion of Inchon opened the door for an effective assault on the flank and supply ines of the invaders MacArthur from his command site in Japan couldn t resist following up the successful retaking of South Korea with an attempt to defeat the North once and for all Truman warned him to pull back at any sign of engagement in the war by the Chinese but the Joint Chiefs gave him plenty of atitude to push as hard he wanted He was aware of What Every American Should Know About the Rest of the World lots of Chinese troops over the border in Manchuria but he was blind to the possibility of their willingness to defend their client state and for aong time ignored plenty of evidence that regular Chinese army troops were present in force one soldier complained If you are shot and killed by an enemy that isn t there are you still alive You can see how the Choisin Reservoir area was effectively the tip of the spear for whole military campaign The book doesn t delve much into the tough fighting by the 7th Army Infantry Division to the east of the Reservoir region or UN troop battles in northwestern Korea Fortunately General Oliver Smith Commander of the First Marine Division was assigned to ead the advance through the Chosin region He had experience with MacArthur s overreaching in the Pacific theater of World War 2 where he fought with the First Marines in their useless slaughter in the taking of the island Pelieu 6500 casualties He had reason to believe that many Chinse troops had already infiltrated into North Korea and that they were advancing into a trap His idiot supervisor as X Corps Commander and MacArthur acolyte Major General Edward Almond constantly pressing him to recklessly advance ahead Smith slowed their advance and eft supply caches along the way He wisely took the initiative to build up the mining town at the southern tip of the Reservoir Hagaru ri into a stronghold and direct his brilliant chief engineer Col John Partridge to direct work around the clock to construct a The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War landing strip suitable for C47 cargo planes for supply and evacuation of the wounded Major General Oliver Smith commander of the 1st Marine Division accompanies MacArthur on a tour after taking InchonIn the next map the print will be too small but it usefully illustrates the encirclement of the Marine positions to the west of the reservoir and of the Army task force on the east side Lt Colonel Faith s story of holding in the face of mass attacks and theneading his Army units on a breakout is so tragic in its details His column was effectively cut in half at one bottleneck and only 1000 of 2500 made it to the relative safety of Hagaru a few hundred as individuals walking across the ice wounded and freezing To the west the survivors of the embattled outpost Yudam took enough hills by fierce combat to enable them to break through multiple roadblocks and ambushes on the road to Hagaru Another dangerous bottleneck to surmount was Tonktong Pass which the particularly brave Fox Company Experiencing the Resurrection: The Everyday Encounter That Changes Your Life led a colorful Captain William Barber hadost most of its men guarding for days from a strategic hill With consolidation of his forces at Hagaru Smith eventually got the message through to command that retreat was necessary to prevent total obliteration he famously preserved morale of his troops by exclaiming Retreat hell We re not retreating we re just advancing in a different direction The fighting retreat down the road toward the port of Hungnam was brilliantly orchestrated by Smith against tall odds With just enough trucks to cram his wounded in he made the sad decisions to execute their dying prisoners and to bury 117 of their dead in a mass graves Many refugees followed in the convoy s wake on foot The convoy came to a dead stop at high point called Funchilin Pass due to a arge span of the bridge there having being blown out by the Chinese Calling again for the magic of Partridge s engineering skills ed to the unusual plan of having the Air Force deliver by parachute eight massive girders of 2900 pounds each to repair the breach Evacuation of the survivors of whole expeditionary force and 14000 refugees to boot at Hungnam was a massive and successful effort involving nearly 200 ships A sad but necessary breah of the Marine principle to not eave fallen comrades behind the burial of 117 Marines Army soldiers and Royal British Commandos on the evacuation road south of ChoisinThe outcome of the Battle of Choisin Reservoir was a evacuation road south of ChoisinThe outcome of the Battle of Choisin Reservoir was a turnaround in the war All of MacArthur s claim just weeks earlier to be close to ending the war was ashes in his mouth as he realized the impossibility of defeating China s vast forces and armaments supplied by the Soviet Union When he was called on the carpet by Truman for getting him in very hot water with his electorate and inspiring Sen Joe McCarthy to call for his impeachment MacArthur claimed to have intended to force China s commitment to their imperialist Commie designs Before the war was finally over and back to the permanent standoff across the 38th parallel both men supposedly considered use of nuclear weapons The result of the Korean War was a return to a standoff between two Koreas across the 38th parallel which was supposed to be a temporary division between Soviet and Allied occupation zones after the ouster of Imperial Japan from the peninsula toward the end of World War 2 Compared to ong wars ike Vietnam and Afghanistan the three years of fighting was relatively short But the casualties were very high making it a shame how it has become a forgotten war by many According to Wikipedia the US suffered about 34000 battle deaths South Korea about 138000 North Korea about 215000 and China 114 183000 Other NATO nations such as the UK Canada Turkey and Australia suffered 300
1000 COMBAT DEATHS AS OFTEN NEGLECTED IN THE BUTCHERcombat deaths As often neglected in the butcher bill for war civilian deaths dwarf those of the soldiers with 374000 estimated for South Korean and over a million for North Korea Th. 12 hrs 8 minsFrom the New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and In the Kingdom of Ice a chronicle of the extraordinary feats of heroism by Marines called on to do the impossible during the greatest battle of the Korean WarOn October 15 1950 the vainglorious General Douglas MacArthur Supreme Commander of UN troops in Korea convinced President Harry Truman that the communist forces would be utterly defeated by Thanksgiving The Chinese he said with near ce.