Flushed with the victory of Inchon and Seoul in the late summer of 1950, Gen. Douglas MacArthur ignored many warnings and forged ahead in the autumn, determined to complete the victory for all of Korea. To this end, he ordered what he thought would be the last campaign: his Eighth Army would advance to the north and his X Corps to the northeast. From the Korean side of the Yalu River border they would be able to see China's desolate Manchuria province and the Soviet Union's Siberian wasteland. Korea would be unified once again, the Korean War won.
This volume tells the story of Eighth Army's misfortunes in the west in that campaign, so optimistically launched in late November 1950. The results dimmed forever MacArthur's aura of military might and led directly to his eclipse and downfall in the early spring of 1951.
It is a story of a sophisticated modern army being overwhelmed by a Chinese army group of light infantry that carried small arms and grenades and that emerged from its mountain hideouts to strike at night with stunning speed against a surprised American and United Nations army. The ancient Chinese weapons of noise and strange calls at night (bugle, shepherd's horn, and an assortment of whistles) together with colored flares worked effectively for them as a communications system in attack and at the same time frayed the nerves of their adversaries, often to the point of paralysis.
The Chinese onslaught in late November and early December in the hills south of the Yalu was not that of an ignorant command system; it was well planned and showed the influence of deep study of Antoine Henri Jomini's theory of warfare. It was characterized by surprise and frontal attack to hold an enemy while other formations attacked one or both flanks and still other parts executed forced marches to reach the rear of the enemy and cut off his retreat. These tactics created great confusion in the separated UN ranks and frequently led to panic and unit disintegration. From the Chinese point of view the campaign against Eighth Army in the west was also a classic example of using night fighting to demoralize an adversary not accustomed to such action.
The campaign was fought with the UN forces, including the Americans, believing that the legendary Chinese soldier Gen. Lin Piao, famous in the Long March and afterward in the Communists' ranks, commanded his veterans of the Fourth Field Army in the battles against Eighth Army. Such was not the . . .