The Chinese Third Phase Offensive
The Opening

On the morning of 23 December General Walker left Seoul by jeep to visit units above Uijongbu. Ten miles north, his jeep started past two 2-ton trucks halted on the opposite side of the road headed south. Almost at the same moment, a Korean civilian driving a -ton truck pulled out from behind the halted vehicles to proceed south and partially entered the northbound lane to get past the parked trucks. Walker's driver swerved away from the oncoming truck but was unable to avoid a collision. The impact threw Walker's vehicle sideways and overturned it, and all occupants were thrown out and injured. General Walker was unconscious and had no discernible pulse when he was picked up by escorts in a following vehicle. At the 24th Division clearing station nearby, he was pronounced dead of multiple head injuries.1

Ridgway Takes Command

In routine anticipation of casualties before Walker's death, General MacArthur had obtained the agreement of the Army chief of staff that Walker's successor, if one was needed, should be Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, then serving on the Department of the Army staff as deputy chief of staff for operations and administration. General Ridgway's experience in World War II as commander of an airborne division and later an airborne corps and his strong leadership qualities had MacArthur's high respect, and his staff assignment in Washington, which had involved visits to the Far East, had kept him well informed of operations in Korea.2

On receiving word of General Walker's death, MacArthur telephoned General Collins in Washington to report the distressing loss and to ask for Ridgway. (The I Corps commander, General Milburn, temporarily assumed command of the Eighth Army.) Near midnight of 22 December Collins notified Ridgway that he was the new com-


mander of the Eighth Army, and hurried preparations on the 23d put Ridgway in the air en route to Tokyo that night.3

Ridgway reached Tokyo's Haneda Airport shortly before midnight on Christmas and was met by General Hickey, MacArthur's acting chief of staff. En route by sedan to the American Embassy guesthouse, General Hickey brought him up to date on operations. The enemy offensive previously expected on Christmas Day had not materialized. Ridgway received fuller briefings the next morning, first in private from General MacArthur, later from General Stratemeyer and Admiral Joy. MacArthur's instructions to Ridgway resembled those given to General Walker: hold as far north as possible and hold Seoul as long as possible. The most to be expected of the Eighth Army, MacArthur told Ridgway, was an eventual tactical success that would clear and secure South Korea. A battlefield success of any substance in the meantime would help Washington answer what MacArthur called the "mission vacuum," meaning the question raised by the Chinese intervention of whether UNC forces could or should stay in Korea.4

MacArthur did reveal a new view of air power. A month earlier he had credited his air forces with a high degree of effectiveness; now he cautioned Ridgway that tactical air power was much exaggerated, that it could not stop the southward flow of enemy forces and supplies. When Ridgway asked near the close of the meeting whether MacArthur would object to a decision to attack, MacArthur replied, "The Eighth Army is yours, Matt. Do what you think best."5 Here was another change. Earlier, MacArthur had played a key and direct role in planning and conducting tactical operations. He would do so no longer. General Ridgway would make all the decisions regarding the employment of the Eighth Army with no requirement to refer them to MacArthur for approval. Ridgway would always inform MacArthur in detail of those decisions, but MacArthur would never question him.

Before leaving for Korea at noon, Ridgway radioed his formal assumption


of command of the Eighth Army with instructions that his message, translated as necessary, be read by all officers and by as many enlisted men as possible. "You will have my utmost," he advised his new command. "I shall expect yours."6

Reaching the main Eighth Army headquarters at Taegu late on the 26th, Ridgway was displeased at finding the bulk of his staff so far to the rear, a matter he resolved to correct eventually. His immediate step was to get to the army forward command post. In battle dress for the first time since leaving Washington, at dawn the next day, he flew to Seoul, where the handful of staff officers he found deepened his resolve to remedy the headquarters arrangement.7 He planned not only to redistribute his staff but also to move the forward command post to a more central location from where he could reach all corps and divisions in minimum time.

Following a staff conference and meetings with American Ambassador John J. Muccio and President Rhee in


Seoul, Ridgway began a four-day reconnaissance of the line B front that took him to all corps and divisions except the ROK Capital Division on the east coast, whose sector was quiet and unthreatened by impending enemy action.9

By evening of the 30th he was back at Eighth Army main in Taegu, much disturbed by what he had learned. The Eighth Army was clearly a dispirited command. "I could sense it the moment I came into a command post . . . I could read it in the faces of . . . leaders, from sergeants right on up to the top. They were unresponsive, reluctant to talk. I had to drag information out of them. There was a complete absence of that alertness, that aggressiveness, that you find in troops whose spirit is high."10 The attack that Ridgway had hoped would be possible he now considered plainly out of the question. He also considered it imperative to strengthen the Eighth Army front if his forces were to hold line B. Whether he had time enough to do so was questionable. Additional evidence of an imminent enemy offensive had appeared as Ridgway reconnoitered the front, and the coming New Year holiday was now a logical date on which to expect the opening assault.11

Unit dispositions along the line had changed little since General Walker succeeded in manning it. (Map 15) The 8213th Army Unit (Eighth Army Ranger Company) patrolled Kanghwa Island at the extreme west in the I Corps sector. Next east, the Turkish brigade overlooked the Han River estuary from the upper end of the Kimpo peninsula. Above the Han, the 25th Division, to which the Turks and Rangers were attached, straddled Route 1 along the lower bank of the Imjin River, and the ROK 1st Division defended the corps right from positions along the Imjin reaching northeast almost to Route 33 in the Wonsan-Seoul corridor. The British 29th Brigade was assembled in I Corps reserve along Route 1 just outside Seoul.12

The IX Corps lay across the Wonsan-Seoul corridor along the 38th parallel, the ROK 6th Division astride Route 33 at the left, the 24th Division across Route 3 at the right. In corps reserve, the British 27th Brigade was assembled near the junction of Routes 33 and 3 at Uijongbu. The 1st Cavalry Division, also in reserve, retained the mission assigned to it while under army control of blocking the Ch'unch'on-Seoul road. Now attached to the cavalry division were the Filipino battalion and the Greek Expeditionary Force, an infantry battalion that had reached Korea on 8 December.13

Near the 38th parallel above Ch'unch'on, the ROK III Corps defended a wide sector with the ROK 2d, 5th, and 8th Divisions on line and the ROK 7th Division in reserve. In the narrow ROK II Corps sector next east, a single division, the ROK 3d, continued to block Route 24 running southwestward through the Hongch'on River valley. The ROK I Corps defended a gaping


Map 15. Enemy Third Phase Offensive, the Opening Effort, 26 December 1950-1 January 1951


line at the Eighth Army right, with the ROK 9th Division in the high mountains at the corps left, and the ROK Capital Division across the slopes and coastal road at the eastern anchor of the front.14

Ridgway's main reserve for strengthening the front was the X Corps. Other resources present or scheduled to arrive in Korea by the end of the year were exceedingly few. The 2d Division, still not fully recovered from its late November losses but now reinforced by the Netherlands and French battalions, was centrally located at Ch'ungju. In the west, the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, with the Thai battalion attached, was assembled at Suwon south of Seoul. Outside these forces, the only available unit was the ROK 11th Division currently operating against guerrillas in various locations to the south. The 2d Battalion of Canada's Princess Patricia's Light Infantry had reached Korea in midDecember but was at Miryang in the southeast for eight weeks of training before entering battle. Similarly, the 16th New Zealand Field Regiment, actually an artillery battalion, due to reach Korea on the 31st, would require training before it moved to the front. The only units en route to Korea that might be able to move forward upon arrival


were two U.S. airborne Ranger companies, the 2d and 4th.15

Holding against the threatening enemy offensive, Ridgway judged, rested on committing most of his reserves early and on revitalizing the spirit of the Eighth Army. By the time he returned to Taegu on the 30th he had taken several steps toward achieving both.16

Restoring the Eighth Army's morale and confidence, Ridgway believed, depended mainly on improving leadership throughout his command, but it was not his intention to start "lopping off heads." Before he would relieve any commander, he wanted personally to see more of the man in action, to know that the relief would not damage the unit involved, and, indeed, to be sure that he had a better commander available. For the time being, he intended to correct deficiencies by working "on and through" his current corps and division commanders. One deficiency he had noted was that many commanders conducted operations from command posts far behind the front. To correct this practice, he ordered "division commanders to be up with their forward battalions, and . . . corps commanders up with the regiment that was in the hottest action."17

He saw further weaknesses in leadership and staff work in the intelligence briefings he received. Confronted during one of the first briefings with a map whose main feature was "a big red goose egg . . . with `174,000' scrawled in the middle of it," Ridgway was astounded. "Here the enemy was leaning right up against us, but we did not know his strength, and we did not have his location pinpointed."18 He attributed such imprecision directly to the Eighth Army's tendency to "look over its shoulder." As a result of this tendency, the line troops had not maintained proper contact with enemy forces or learned enough about the terrain to their front. He promptly rebuked his subordinates for failing to meet these two basic combat requirements. They were to patrol until they had defined the enemy's positions and determined the strengths of units opposite them, and he warned that he "didn't want to ask any man where a trail went and have him tell me he didn't know."19

Ridgway did receive another intelligence report that, if unacceptably imprecise, was more than a "goose egg" estimate of the opposition. The "174,000," Colonel Tarkenton explained, was the estimated strength of the Chinese XIII Army Group. The group's six armies, each with a strength of 29,000, were either along the Eighth Army front or in the immediate enemy rear area. Tarkenton believed three North Korean corps totaling 65,800 men also were at the front and that a fourth was approaching it.20

The greatest enemy strength seemed to be massed opposite the Eighth


Army's west central sector, an indication that the main enemy attack would come through the Wonsan-Seoul corridor over Routes 33 and 3. A strong secondary attack farther east also seemed probable, either southwest over the Ch'unch'on-Seoul axis or south through Ch'unch'on and Wonju via Route 29, in an, attempt to outflank the I and IX Corps above Seoul.21

Two recent attacks by units of the North Korean II and V Corps opened as Ridgway reached Korea, supported Tarkenton's prediction of a strong secondary effort in the east. Fourteen miles northeast of Ch'unch'on, two North Korean regiments coming from the Hwach'on, Reservoir area hit the ROK 8th Division at the right of the ROK III Corps and gouged a mile-deep salient before the South Koreans contained the attack. Out of the Inje area, twenty-five miles northeast of Ch'unch'on, a larger force believed to include a division and a reinforced regiment struck southwestward through the ROK 9th Division's flimsy position at the left of the ROK I Corps. Entering the rear area of the narrow ROK II Corps sector, the attack force by 30 December established a strong roadblock on the central arterial, Route 29, almost twentyfive miles below Ch'unch'on. By extending these gains, especially the deeper southwestward thrust out of the Inje area, North Korean forces conceivably could sever the Eighth Army's main lines of communication.22

Defensive Preparations

Committing the X Corps

Ridgway's first tactical move was to counter this threat from the northeast. On the 27th, right after hearing Ambassador Muccio give his evaluation of the tactical situation, Ridgway ordered part of the 2d Division north from Ch'ungju into the North Koreans' projected path. General McClure was to move a regimental combat team twenty-five miles north to Wonju, from where it could oppose any North Korean attempt to advance south over Route 29 or west along Route 20 and where it could protect a vulnerable link of the central Pusan-Seoul rail line, which served as an Eighth Army supply route.23

McClure was in the process of moving the 23d Infantry and the French battalion to Wonju on the 29th when the North Korean attack out of Inje carried behind the ROK II Corps farther north. Ridgway consequently ordered McClure to move the remainder of his division to Wonju and to send one regiment twenty-five miles north of that town to Hongch'on where Route 29 from Ch'unch'on and Route 24 from the northeast intersected. McClure complied on the 30th, sending the 23d Infantry toward Hongch'on to join its South Korean namesake, the 23d Regiment of the ROK 7th Division.24

Before the 23d Infantry could complete its move above Wonju, the North


Koreans reported by the ROK III Corps to number between seven hundred and twelve hundred men, blocked Route 29 six miles below Hongch'on. The 23d's advance became a clearing operation, made in concert with a battalion of the ROK 23d Regiment, which moved south out of Hongch'on and with the reserve 5th Regiment of the ROK 3d Division, which dropped south from Ch'unch'on to a point west of the North Korean position and then struck eastward against it. The concerted effort cleaned out most of the roadblock on the 31st. The battalion of the ROK 23d Regiment returned to Hongch'on while the ROK 5th Regiment and the leading battalion of the 23d Infantry stayed to clear the remainder of the enemy position. The balance of the 23d Infantry was strung out on Route 29, a battalion at Hoengsong nine miles below the roadblock site, the remainder still in Wonju where the rest of the 2d Division was now assembling.25

While installing the 2d Division in the Hongch'on-Wonju area might hold off the North Koreans currently advancing from the northeast, the defensive weakness in the three South Korean corps sectors left open the likelihood of stronger, more effective enemy penetrations. Against this possibility, Ridgway planned to reinforce this portion of the front, much as General Walker had decided earlier, by setting the X Corps in the Ch'unch'on sector now held by the ROK III Corps and by placing the bulk of his South Korean forces along a narrower, more solid front in the higher mountains and coastal slopes to the east.26

Since time was critical, Ridgway on 28 December pressed General Almond and the commander of the 2d Logistical Command, General Garvin, to quicken the readiness preparations of the 1st Marine, 3d, and 7th Divisions. The marines, now reattached to the X Corps, and the 7th Division were fully assembled but were still refurbishing, and the 3d Division, last to leave Hungnam, was not yet three-quarters ashore. The ships carrying General Soule's remaining troops were in Pusan harbor, however, and following Ridgway's 29 December order that these ships be unloaded without delay, the balance of the 3d Division was ashore and en route to the division's assembly area south of Kyongju by nightfall on the 30th.27

Since it was nevertheless obvious that the X Corps as currently constituted could not move forward for some time, Ridgway on the 29th approved plans developed by his staff for adjusting Almond's order of battle to permit earlier commitment. Under these plans the X Corps headquarters and whichever of Almond's present divisions completed its preparations first would move to Wonju, where Almond would add the 2d Division and possibly one ROK division to his command as substitutes for the two divisions left behind. Even this arrangement would take time; the estimate for moving one of Almond's current divisions from its southern as-


sembly area to the battle zone was eight to ten days. Once forward, the X Corps was to operate with the initial mission of destroying any enemy penetration of the South Korean front above it and of protecting the IX Corps' east flank.28

Ridgway gave Almond detailed instructions on the 30th. Having learned that the 7th Division would be ready ahead of the other two divisions, he directed Almond to move one of its regiments the next day to Chech'on, twenty miles below Wonju, where Route 60 and a mountain road coming from the east and northeast joined Route 29. When Almond could get the remainder of General Barr's forces forward, he was to assemble the 7th near the 2d so that both divisions could be deployed quickly against any enemy penetration from the direction of Ch'unch'on and Inje or from the east toward Hoengsong and Wonju. Almond subsequently could expect to occupy a sector of the front. In the meantime, he was to develop Route 29 southeastward from Wonju through Chech'on, Tanyang, Yongju, and Andong as the main X Corps supply route.29

On the last day of the year Ridgway placed the 1st Marine and 3d Divisions in army reserve. When fully refurbished, the marines were to move from Masan to an east coast assembly in the Yongch'on-Kyongju-P'ohangdong area and prepare to occupy blocking positions wherever needed to the north. The 3d Division was to reassemble in the west. As soon as General Soule finished reorganizing and reequipping his forces he was to move them into the P'yongt'aek-Ansong area forty miles south of Seoul and prepare them for operations in either the I or IX Corps sector.30

Establishing the Seoul Bridgehead

While reinforcing the South Korean sector of the front, Ridgway also deepened the defense of Seoul. After conferences with General Milburn and General Coulter on the 27th, he instructed them to organize a bridgehead above Seoul along a line curving from the north bank of the Han west of Seoul through a point just below Uijongbu at the junction of Routes 33 and 3 to the north and back to the Han east of the city. The bridgehead would be deep enough to keep the Han bridges below Seoul free of enemy artillery fire. The position therefore would be suitable for covering a general withdrawal below Seoul that might accompany or follow the occupation of the bridgehead line.31

Milburn and Coulter each were to place a division on the bridgehead line if the expected enemy attack forced them to vacate their line B positions. Ridgway at first restricted any I and IX


Corps withdrawal from the present front to his own personal order. But on reconsidering the high estimate of Chinese strength opposite the two corps, the tendency of some South Korean units to break under pressure, and the demonstrated Chinese preference for night attacks, he realized that this restriction could create a costly delay should Milburn and Coulter be unable to contact him promptly. He therefore authorized the two corps commanders to withdraw on their own at any time they agreed that it was necessary but could not reach him.32

No matter who gave the order, Ridgway insisted that a withdrawal to the bridgehead be more than a mere move from one line to another; both corps were to attack enemy forces who followed. The terrain could accommodate this tactic, especially in the Wonsan-Seoul corridor where the enemy would be obliged to use routes surrounded by higher ground. Ridgway expected Milburn and Coulter to leave strong forces of infantry and armor posted in this high ground as the two corps withdrew; these forces would strike advancing enemy units and disrupt the followup before they themselves moved back to the bridgehead.33

Ridgway Returns to Seoul

In smaller steps taken before the year was out, Ridgway attached the 2d Ranger Company to the 1st Cavalry Division in the west and the 4th Ranger Company to the 7th Division in the east. Since the 2d Division was operating in the Wonju area where the surrounding mountains prohibited armor, he ordered McClure's 72d Tank Battalion to the west for attachment to the IX Corps, which might use it to punish an enemy advance on Seoul.34

Anticipating an opening enemy attack toward the capital on New Year's Day, Ridgway returned there on the afternoon of the 31st.35 According to Colonel Tarkenton's latest intelligence estimate, enemy forces were fully deployed. In the west, the North Korean I Corps straddled Route 1 at the lmjin with the Chinese 50th Army concentrated just behind it; the 39th Army had spread out near the Imjin between Routes 1 and 33; the 38th Army sat astride Route 33 below Yonch'on with the 40th Army assembled to its rear; and the 66th Army lay across Routes 3 and 17, its forces pointed at both Uijongbu and Ch'unch'on, with the 42d Army backing it up at Kumhwa.36

Farther east, the full North Korean V Corps, previously in the area now occupied by the 66th Army, had joined the North Korean II Corps in the region between and below Hwach'on and Inje. This concentration, the expected arrival of the North Korean III Corps in the same area, and the probability that forces from the Chinese IX Army Group would move down into the same region from Hungnam represented, in Tarkenton's estimation, a sufficient force to exploit successfully the North Korean gains already registered in the east.37


The preponderance of enemy forces above Seoul still pointed to a main effort against the South Korean capital over the Uijongbu-Seoul axis. In addition, enemy artillery positions sighted from the air disclosed a large number of guns generally astride an extension of the I and IX Corps boundary, all well disposed to support an attack through the Wonsan-Seoul corridor. Further, aerial observers had spotted an enemy buildup of bridging materials near the lmjin. Prisoners confirmed these indications. Several revealed that a main offensive toward Seoul would open on the night of 31 December, and an officer from the 38th Army said that the offensive would begin with a coordinated attack by the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 42d Armies.38

The Opening Enemy Assaults

Ridgway had judged the signs correctly. As he flew into Seoul and visited the western front by jeep during the afternoon of the 31st, vanguards of the 116th Division, 39th Army, moved down to the Imjin near Korangp'o-ri and forced outposts of the ROK 1st Division to withdraw below the river. Behind a thirty-minute artillery preparation, forces of the 116th then crossed the lmjin just after full dark to attack the ROK division's main defenses.39

From this opening at the I Corps right, the XIII Army Group commander broadened his attack eastward. Around midnight units of the 116th Division and of the 113th Division, 38th Army, struck hard at the ROK 6th Division on the IX Corps left while the 114th Division, 38th Army, opened smaller, intermittent assaults against the 24th Division at the IX Corps right. Two hours later the 66th Army sent forces against the ROK 5th Division in the center of the ROK III Corps sector and near 0500 hit the ROK 2d Division at the ROK III Corps left.40

In grand tactics, the Chinese New Year's offensive, or Third Phase Offensive as the Chinese called it, resembled their previous effort, strong forces pushing a main attack in the west while other forces threatened envelopment in the east. The hard jolts of the 38th and 39th Armies against the I and IX Corps aimed the main Chinese effort generally south astride Route 33 toward Seoul. The 66th Army's attacks against the ROK III Corps farther east widened the Chinese advance to a front of forty-five miles but were pointed mainly at Kap'yong, thirty-five miles northeast of Seoul and twelve miles west of Ch'unch'on. Seizure of Kap'yong, situated as it was on the Ch'unch'on-Seoul road, could be the beginning of a flanking movement against Seoul or the start of a deeper sweep to envelop the city. It also posed the danger of envelopment to the South Korean forces defending Ch'unch'on, forces whose positions already were threatened by the deep North Korean salient in the Hongch'on area.41

The 38th and 39th Armies reinforced the main drive during the night but kept it massed near the I-IX Corps boundary. The 25th Division on the left flank of the I Corps was not touched, and attacks against the 24th Division


on the IX Corps right, though numerous, remained small and ineffective. Either by a decision to single out the interior ROK 1st and 6th Divisions or by the coincidence of their adjoining positions athwart Route 33, the Chinese concentrated on wedging through the South Koreans, particularly the 1st Division.42

The reinforced night attack of the 116th Division against the ROK 1st Division shoved the 12th Regiment out of position on the division right and sent its troops streaming to the rear. General Paik tried to refill the vacated sector with his reserve 15th Regiment, but that regiment and the 11th on the division left were hit hard and forced back to the south and west, leaving much ground open to Chinese exploitation. The ROK 6th Division fared better, giving little ground to the 116th and 113th Divisions, but by daylight faced a threat of entrapment, posed to some extent by enemy groups who managed to work into its rear area but posed most seriously by those forces of the 116th cutting deep through the ROK 1st Division to its left.43

The deepest point of Chinese penetration by daylight on 1 January had been marked by Battery C of the U.S. 9th Field Artillery Battalion, which had been supporting the ROK 1st Division from positions behind the 12th Regiment. When the battery withdrew after the 12th abandoned its position, the artillery column was caught in an ambush about eight miles south of the Imjin and lost four 155-mm. howitzers before it could escape the trap. From this point the edges of the V-shaped enemy salient driven into the right half of the ROK 1st Division sector traced secondary Route 5Y northwestward to the Imjin through the middle of General Paik's sector and traced secondary Route 11 northward, not far west of the I-IX Corps boundary.44

From reports reaching Eighth Army headquarters through the night, General Ridgway suspected that the Chinese advance toward Seoul was fast becoming more than the I and IX Corps could handle. No more than three Chinese divisions so far had been identified in the assault in the west, but the Chinese, in all logic, would exploit their gains in the ROK 1st Division sector and could commit additional divisions with no great delay. A paucity of reports left Ridgway somewhat in the dark about what was happening in the South Korean sectors farther east. Although American advisers, the main sources of information on ROK Army operations, were at the principal South Korean headquarters, breakdowns in communication between front line and headquarters seemed to be the rule rather than the exception in ROK units. Ridgway nevertheless was aware that Chinese forces had hit the ROK III Corps, a portent that made the I and IX Corps positions even less tenable.45

By the time Ridgway started north out of Seoul near dawn on New Year's Day toward the sectors of the ROK 1st and 6th Divisions, he had few doubts that he would have to withdraw from line B. His concern heightened to alarm a few miles north when he met trucks


packed with South Korean troops. No weapons other than a few rifles were in sight. He sensed immediately that the South Koreans were running and jumped from his jeep to wave the trucks to a halt. But he "might as well had tried to stop the flow of the Han." The most he could do was order straggler points established where retreating troops could be stopped and reassembled.46

The episode on the road, as Ridgway discovered when he visited the I and IX Corps headquarters before noon, had not signaled the collapse of the two ROK divisions. The bulk of both was still forward, and both were attempting to erect defenses along the shoulders of the Chinese penetration. General Paik was setting his 11th and 15th Regiments across hills overlooking Route 5Y along the southwestern shoulder, a small part of the 15th stood below the point of the wedge, and about half the 12th Regiment was now loosely assembled some two miles below the deepest penetration. On the other side of the salient, Brig. Gen. Chang Do Yong, commander of the ROK 6th Division, was moving his reserve 2d Regiment into position along Route 33 to refuse his left flank. Rearward along this long open flank, General Coulter had ordered the British 27th Brigade from Uijongbu into blocking positions near Tokchong, eight miles north, where a road coming southeastward out of the area invested by Chinese joined Route 33.47

General Milburn, Ridgway learned, had started the British 29th Brigade up Route 1 from Seoul toward a forward assembly behind the 25th Division. From there the British were to attack northeast into the flank of the enemy salient. Ridgway discouraged this move, believing a counterattack to have any chance at all would require at least a full American division. But such a commitment seemed neither wise nor feasible. The two nearest U.S. divisions were the 25th and 24th. The 25th, though still not directly involved except for having received mortar and artillery fire, was the only unit standing before the North Korean I Corps and the Chinese 50th Army. The 24th on the opposite flank had been hit hard after daylight, apparently by all three regiments of the 114th Division, and had backed away to positions two miles south. Even if one of these divisions were to be used, Ridgway saw no way, in view of their dispositions on the flanks, that a counterattack could be started in less than forty-eight hours. Such an effort, he judged, would be too late since the Chinese were not only maintaining strong pressure but, according to early morning air reports of heavy troop movements down Route 33 from the direction of Ch'orwon, also were showing clear signs of further reinforcing their advance.48

From additional reports reaching Ridgway by noon of the 1st, he now knew that the ROK III Corps had been under attack since early morning, that the ROK 2d and 5th Divisions at the corps left and center had received the attacks, and that the heaviest assaults.


had hit the 5th. While these reports still gave Ridgway scant information, they made plain that the Chinese were moving on a broad front and pointed out more sharply the possibility of a flanking or enveloping move against Seoul. From this clearer picture of the Ch'unch'on sector and the circumstances facing the I and IX Corps in the west, Ridgway was fully convinced that the wisest moves were to withdraw the latter two corps to the Seoul bridgehead and to pull all South Korean forces in the east to line C. Although having to call a withdrawal only six days after he had taken command of the Eighth Army was disappointing and was certainly contrary to his original intention of attacking or at least standing fast, he gave General Milburn and General Coulter withdrawal orders at noon.49


1 Report of Inquiry Into Accidental Death of Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker, Eighth Army, 11 Jan 51. According to a ROK Ministry of National Defense publication, Korean War History for One Year: 1 May 1950 to 30 June 1951, the driver of the truck was sentenced to three years' imprisonment. See English translation of publication in CMH, p. B-347.

2 Maj. Gen. Courtney Whitney, MacArthur, His Rendezvous With History (New York: Knopf, 1956), p. 432; MS, Ridgway, The Korean War, Issues and Policies, p. 348; Eighth Army Comd Rpt, Nar, Dec 50; General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Reminiscences (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965), p. 383; Schnabel, Policy and Direction, pp. 305-06; Rad, Z 30753, CINCFE to DEPTAR, MacArthur Personal for Ridgway, 23 Dec 50.

3 Whitney, MacArthur, His Rendezvous With History, p. 432; Matthew B. Ridgway, Soldier (New York: Harper, 1956), pp. 195-98; MS, Ridgway, The Korean War, Issues and Policies, p. 348. Note that standard Washington time is fourteen hours earlier than Korea time.

4 Ridgway, Soldier, pp. 201-02; MS, Ridgway, The Korean War, Issues and Policies, pp. 349-53.

5 Ibid.

6 Eighth Army GO 215, 26 Dec 50; Rad, H 50965 KCG, CG Eighth Army to CG I Corps et al., 26 Dec 50; MS, Ridgway, The Korean War, Issues and Policies, pp. 353-54.

7 Later Ridgway's daily garb would include a grenade hooked to the right suspender of his web equipment and a first aid packet to the left. These items became his trademark.

8 Ridgway, Soldier, pp. 116, 203, 219; MS, Ridgway, The Korean War, Issues and Policies, pp. 353, 390.

9 Ridgway, Soldier, p. 204; MS, Ridgway, The Korean War, Issues and Policies, pp. 355-57.

10 Ridgway Soldier, p. 205. "

11 Ibid., p. 209; Memo, Ridgway for Chief of Staff, GHQ, 7 Jan 51, copy in CMH.

12 Situation Overlay, Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 27 Dec 50; Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 28 Dec 50.

13 Ibid.; Fox, "Inter-Allied Co-operation During Combat Operations."

14 Situation Overlay, Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 27 Dec 50.

15 Eighth Army G3 Jnls, 27-31 Dec 50; Fox, "Inter-Allied Co-operation During Combat Operations."

16 MS, Ridgway, The Korean War, Issues and Policies, p. 358.

17 Ltr, Gen Ridgway to Gen J. Lawton Collins, 8 Jan 51, copy in CMH; Interv, Mossman, Carroll, and Miller with Ridgway, 30 Nov 56; Ridgway, Soldier, pp. 206-07.

18 Ridgway, Soldier, p. 205.

19 Interv, Mossman, Carroll, and Miller with Ridgway, 30 Nov 56; Ridgway, Soldier, p. 206.

20 Eighth Army G2 SS Rpt, Dec 50, Enemy Situation-Special Report for the Army Commander; Ridgway, Soldier, p. 209.

21 Ibid.

22 Eighth Army G3 Jnls, 27-31 Dec 50; Eighth Army G2 PIRs 167-172, 26-31 Dec 50.

23 MS, Ridgway, The Korean War, Issues and Policies, p. 357; Rad, GX-20178 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to CG 2d Div, 27 Dec 50.

24 Rads, GX 20218 KGOO and GX 20253 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to CG 2d Div, 28 and 29 Dec 50; Eighth Army G3 Jul, 29 and 30 Dec 50; Eighth Army G3 Briefing for CG, 30 Dec 50.

25 Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 31 Dec 50; Situation Overlay with Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 31 Dec 50; Eighth Army POR 517, 31 Dec 50; Eighth Army G3 Briefing for CG, 31 Dec 50.

26 Eighth Army G3 Jul, 28 Dec 50.

27 Rad, GX 20219 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to CG X Corps and CG 2d Log Comd, 28 Dec 50; X Corps POR 93, 28 Dec 50; Rad, GX 20228, CG Eighth Army to CG X Corps and CG 2d Log Comd, 29 Dec 50; X Corps POR 95, 30 Dec 50.

28 Rad, GX 20217 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to Eighth Army Fwd, for Gen Ridgway from Gen Allen, 28 Dec 50; Rad, G 10014 KCG, Dep CofS Eighth Army Adv to CofS Eighth Army Main, 29 Dec 50.

29 X Corps CG Diary, 30 Dec 50; Rad, GX 20294 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to CG X Corps, 30 Dec 50; Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 30 Dec 50; Rad, GX 20329 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to CG X Corps, 31 Dec 50.

30 Rads, GX 20295 KGOO and GX 20332 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to CG X Corps, 30 and 31 Dec 50; Rad, GX 20335 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to CG 1st Marine Div, 31 Dec 50; Eighth Army G3 Jul, 31 Dec 50.

31 MS, Ridgway, The Korean War, Issues and Policies, p. 356; Ridgway, Soldier, pp. 207-08; Rad, GX 10009 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to CGs I and IX Corps, 28 Dec 50; Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 28 Dec 50. Most of the fortification work at the bridgehead line was to be done by South Korean laborers. During the meeting with President Rhee on the 27th, Ridgway asked him for 30,000 civilian laborers to be employed in building fortifications above and below Seoul, and Rhee provided the first 10,000 by dawn on the 28th.

32 MS, Ridgway, The Korean War, Issues and Policies, 369.

33 Ibid., p. 365; Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 28 Dec 50.

34 Eighth Army GO 219, 30 Dec 50; Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 30 and 31 Dec 50.

35 "It is not enough [for a commander] to move in response to critical situations, they must be anticipated." Interv, Mossman, Carroll, and Miller with
Ridgway, 30 Nov 56.

36 Ltr, Gen Ridgway to Gen Collins, 3 Jan 51, copy in CMH; Eighth Army PIR 172, 31 Dec 50.

37 Eighth Army PIRs 171, 30 Dec 50, and 172, 31 Dec 50.

38 Ibid.

39 Eighth Army G3 Jot, 1 Jan 51; Eighth Army PIR 173, 1 Jan 51; FEC Intel Dig, no. 115, 1-15 Feb 53; 24th Div Comd Rpt, Nar, Dec 50; Ltr, Ridgway to Collins, 3 Jan 51; Ridgway, Soldier, p. 209.

40 Ibid.; IX Corps PIR 97, 1 Jan 51; IX Corps POR 293, 1 Jan 51.

41 Ibid.

42 Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 1 Jan 51; Eighth Army PIR 173, 1 Jan 51; I Corps G3 Jnl, 1 Jan 51; 1 Corps POR 332, 1 Jan 51; IX Corps POR 293, 1 Jan 51; IX Corps PIR 97, 1 Jan 51.

43 Ibid.

44 Ibid.

45 Ibid.; Ridgway, Soldier, p. 210.

46 Ridgway, Soldier, p. 210.

47 Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 1 Jan 51; 1 Corps POR 333, 1 Jan 51; IX Corps G3 Jnl, 1 Jan 51; IX Corps POR 294, 1 Jan 51.

48 Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 1 Jan 51; Msg, G3 I Corps to G3 IX Corps, in IX Corps G3 Jnl, 1 Jan 51; I Corps POR 333, 1 Jan 51; IX Corps POR 294, 1 Jan 51; Ridgway, Memo for CofS GHQ, 7 Jan 51, copy in CMH.

49 Eighth Army G3 Jnl, 1 Jan 51; Rad, GX 10023 KCG, CG Eighth Army to CINCFE, 2 Jan 51; Ltr, Ridgway to Collins, 8 Jan 51.

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