With the threat of Chinese intervention, Truman met with MacArthur on October 15 on Wake Island. MacArthur did not think the Chinese forces would number more than 30,000 men. (In reality the number would be closer to 300,000) The general discounted chances that the Red Chinese Army would act, but if it did, he predicted "there would be the greatest slaughter." On November 24, MacArthur moved American, British, and ROK forces to within a few miles of the Yalu River border with China and publicly promised to have the victorious American soldiers home by Christmas. Preliminary clashes with Chinese forces in early November were ignored by MacArthur and his staff. They persisted with their conviction that the Chinese were either unwilling or unable to intervene effectively. Chinese Counterattack On the night of November 25, 1950 (Thanksgiving night), Chinese forces counterattacked, and massive "human wave" attacks, blowing bugles, hurling grenades, and taking massive casualties, stunned UN forces and sent them reeling in retreat. Across northern Korea, UN forces fell back in great confusion. The 1st Marine Division was surrounded at the Chosin Reservoir and had to fight their way to the port of Hammung by leap-frogging units to clear the road in front of them. American casualties exceeded 12,000 (4,418 battle casualties and 7,313 non-battle casualties, mostly frostbite), but the Communist Chinese lost over three times as many (estimated at 37,500). Marine Corps General O.P. Smith correctly stated: "Gentlemen, we are not retreating. We are merely advancing in another direction."
On December 10, the first of the Marines began to trickle into the port of Hammung. Other retreating UN forces also gathered there. Unit by unit, 100,000 men of the U.S. Army, the Marines, British, and ROKs boarded ships and sailed away. On December 24, with the evacuation complete, the U.S. Navy unleashed a huge bombardment on the abandoned port, blasting its facilities and remaining supply dumps into wreckage. Within three weeks, the North Koreans and the Communist Chinese troops had shoved UN forces back to the border where the UN finally stabilized the line back near the 38th parallel. During the retreat, General MacArthur asked permission to bomb bridges on the Yalu River and Chinese bases in China. He also wanted a naval blockade of China. Truman feared such actions could escalate the war. Truman allowed only the North Korean end of the bridges over the Yalu River bombed and rejected MacArthur's other requests. In light of the Chinese involvement, Truman sought a negotiated settlement to the conflict that would leave two Koreas. MacArthur Relieved of Command In March and April 1951, MacArthur began to publicly criticize the way Truman had handled the "limited war." He wanted to attack targets in China and use anti-communist Chinese troops from Formosa. On April 5, a Republican congressmen read a letter on the floor of the House in which MacArthur criticized the president and said that "there is no substitute for victory." Such an open act of insubordination [a public challenge of presidential authority] left the president no choice but to fire MacArthur. Civilian control of the military was at stake. The Joint Chiefs of Staff all backed the decision and on April 11, 1951, Truman relieved MacArthur of command and ordered him home. MacArthur was replaced by General Matthew Ridgeway.
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