In northeast Korea, with Eighth Army already withdrawing in the west, a separate ordeal of fire and ice befell Marines and soldiers around the Chosin Reservoir.
About 25,000 troops of X Corps were surrounded—and marked for extermination—by 120,000 Chinese soldiers. An epic battle seethed for two cruel weeks over dozens of miles of forbidding mountain road, at brutal temperatures of 30 degrees below zero and lower. The fighting conjured up references to Xenophon's Anabasis, the story set in 400 B.C. of 10,000 Greek soldiers who fought through a terrible winter campaign in Persian mountains until they reached the sea. But nothing compares to the frozen hell of Chosin.
Plans called for the Marines to slice inward and hook up with the right edge of the Eighth Army, then advance to the North Korean sanctuary at Kanggye and ultimately to the Yalu River. But even the rugged geography made this a challenging assignment. X Corps and Eighth Army were separated by 25 to 30 miles of trackless Taebaek
Above: Men of the 1st Marine Division rest on a snow-covered roadside after repulsing an enemy ambush somewhere in Korea.