By the grace of a merciful Providence our forces fighting under the
standard of that greatest hope and inspiration of mankind, the United Nations,
have liberated this ancient city of Seoul. |
DOUGLAS MACARTHUR (at Seoul, 29 September 1950)
With the crossing of the Han River projected for 20 September, the drive
on Seoul was about to begin. During the planning stages for the Inch'on
landing, MacArthur had prophesied to Almond, "You will be in Seoul
in five days." Almond replied, "I cannot do that but I will have
the city in two weeks." 
The plan for crossing the Han River called for Colonel Murray's 5th
Marines to cross at the ferry site three miles northeast of Kimpo Airfield
and eight miles west of Seoul. (See Map VII.) A swimming
party of fourteen men, mostly from the Reconnaissance Company, stepped
into the Han at 2000 on the evening of the 19th, crossed safely to the
north side, and found that the crossing site was suitable for LVT's. A
5-man patrol then continued up the slope of Hill 125 but turned back short
of the crest. The swimming party gave the signal for the rest of the company
to cross. When eight of nine amphibious tractors carrying the Reconnaissance
Company were in the water enemy mortar and machine gun fire suddenly struck
among them. The tractors turned around and made for the south bank. An
hour later the swimming party arrived there with three wounded and one
missing. Its plans disrupted, the 5th Marines now began preparing for an
assault crossing of the Han after daylight. 
MARINES ON HILL 125 under heavy enemy fire.
After a heavy artillery preparation against Hill 125, I Company, 5th
Marines, began the assault crossing at 0645, 20 September. Enemy fire from
automatic weapons and small arms on Hill 125 caused rather heavy casualties
in I Company but it secured the hill by 0940. Other elements of the 3d
Battalion, still riding LVT's, encountered little or no resistance and
proceeded a mile inland to cut the Seoul-Kaesong railroad and a road at
the village of Nung-dong by 0830. Still riding in LVT's they now turned
right and moved southeast along the railroad track toward Seoul. 
The 2d Battalion followed the 3d Battalion across the river at 1000,
passed through it, and continued the advance. By nightfall the 5th Marines
with twelve tanks, and the 2d Battalion, ROK Marines, were across the river.
Engineers had begun constructing a pontoon ferry at the crossing site.
On the morning of 21 September, the 5th Marines, after repulsing an
enemy company-sized counterattack, advanced southeast astride the rail
and road lines paralleling the Han River. Resistance, at first light, steadily
increased. The 3d Battalion captured and turned over to Korean marines
Hill 104, north of the rail line and five and a half miles from the crossing
site, and then turned north east toward Hill 296 at the northwest edge
of Seoul. In the meantime, the 1st Battalion attacked and captured a series
of lower hills south of the rail and road lines. That evening the 5th Marines
faced a line of hills running generally north-south along the western edge
of Seoul. At the southern end of the line, near the village of Sogang,
the 1st Battalion was within three miles of the main (Yongsan) railroad
station in Seoul. 
Although unaware of the fact as they rested on their arms that night
at the gate to the city, the men of the 5th Marines were to be held at
this line of hills for four days of bloody battle. There the North Koreans
had chosen to fight their battle for the western approaches to the city.
After receiving word of the rapid advance of the 5th Marines toward
Seoul, General MacArthur returned to Tokyo on 21 September. 
The Capture of Yongdungpo
Advancing on the right (south) of the 5th Marines, the 1st Marines gradually
approached Yongdungp'o. Relieved by the 32d Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry
Division, in the early afternoon of 19 September, the 1st Battalion, 1st
Marines, was ready to shift northeast to hill positions captured during
the day by the 5th Marines at the west edge of Yongdungp'o. Because its
transportation was late in arriving, darkness had fallen before the 1st
Battalion reached its detrucking point. Company A climbed to the summit
of Hill 118 to relieve the occupying force. Later C Company joined it there.
Meanwhile, elements of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, had departed at
2100 from Hills 80 and 85 nearby, because there was a deadline set for
their departure that would enable them to march the six to eight miles
to the 5th Marines' Han River crossing site.
After having lost these hills that afternoon to the 5th Marines, the
North Koreans counterattacked just before daylight. Their attack groups
left Yongdungp'o, crossed the rice paddies and Kal-ch'on Creek, and arrived
on Hills 80 and 85 to find them undefended. Part of the enemy force continued
on to Hill 118 where A and C (Companies of the 1st Marines repulsed them.
The unfortunate loss of Hills 80 and 85 at the edge of Yongdungp'o that night made it necessary for the 1st Battalion,
1st Marines, to assault them again in the morning. It recaptured Hill 85
only after intense close combat in which there were many Marine casualties.
Simultaneously with the North Korean predawn attack against Hills 80,
85, and 118, a battalion-size force led by five T34 tanks left Yongdungp'o
on the Inch'on highway to counterattack the 1st Marines. It ran headlong
into the Marine position before daylight and in a flaming battle in the
darkness the North Koreans were all but annihilated.
In this fight, Pfc. Gonegan boldly approached the T34 tanks. He knocked
out two of them with his 3.5-inch bazooka and was in the act of firing
on a third when he was killed. Dawn disclosed 300 dead North Korean soldiers
on the road, in the ditches, and strewn about on the adjacent slopes.
By 0945, the main body of the 1st Marines reached the high ground overlooking
Yongdungp'o from the west side of Kal-ch'on Creek, a sizable stream flowing
north past the west edge of the city into the Han. General Almond arrived
there at 1000 and in a conference with Colonel Puller, the Marine regimental
commander, authorized him to shell Yongdungp'o. For the rest of the day
the regiment held its place on the west side of the stream while artillery
shelled Yongdungp'o and planes bombed it. The artillery barrage continued into the night. 
The arc of high ground west of Yongdungp'o was nearest to the city at
its northern and southern extremities. At the center, a wide expanse of
rice paddies and dikes, as well as Kal-ch'on Creek, separated the hills
from the city. Accordingly, the best points from which to attack seemed
to be the two extremities of the arc. The 1st Battalion was on the north,
closest to the Han; the 2d Battalion was on the south along the Inch'on
highway; the 3d Battalion was in reserve.
At daybreak, 21 September, the artillery resumed its preparation against
Yongdungp'o, the big industrial suburb on the south bank of the Han, three
miles southwest of Seoul. Then, at 0630, the marines attacked. At the northern
end of the arc the 1st Battalion moved off Hills 85 and 80 onto the flat
rice paddy ground and across Kal-ch'on Creek into the edge of Yongdungp'o.
There enemy fire caused many casualties and slowed its advance. North Koreans
held the dikes at the northwest approach to the city.
In its part of the attack, the 2d Battalion at the southern end of the
arc had even harder going. Enemy mortar and artillery fire from high ground
on that flank took a heavy toll in Marine casualties. By early afternoon,
the 2d Battalion had suffered 85 casualties in crossing the rice paddies
bordering Kal-ch'on Creek. Here at the edge of Yongdungp'o, large parts
of which were now burning, the North Koreans fought the battalion to a
standstill. The 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, passed through the hard-hit
2d Battalion late in the afternoon and continued the attack under heavy
artillery fire. 
The North Koreans had held off the attacks at either end of their line,
when in an unexpected manner the key to Yongdungp'o fell into the marines'
hands. While the heavy battles were in progress on either flank, A Company
left Hill 118 and moved behind low, masking hills to approach the dike
system in the rice fields near the center of the line directly west of
the main part of Yongdungp'o. The company formed an assault line behind
a high dike, crossed it, and then advanced through chest-high rice to the
deep mud of Kal-ch'on Creek, crossed the stream, reformed in front of another
dike on the far side, and then entered the city streets undiscovered. As
A Company moved through the empty heart of the town the men could hear
sounds of heavy fighting on their right and left. Capt. Robert Barrow,
the company commander, soon found that he and his men were 700 yards inside
the town without contact with other friendly units. His reaction was not,
as is so often the case when troops are in such a situation, that he and
his company were alone, isolated, and surrounded. Instead, he realized
that he was in the enemy's rear and proceeded to exploit the situation.
Soon Barrow's advanced platoon on the left saw enemy troops hurrying
west ward along the concrete highway from Seoul-reinforcements for the battle
in progress. Its fire surprised and either destroyed or dispersed these
troops. The company moved on. Shortly before noon, and after passing almost
through the city, Barrow stopped at its eastern side. There he placed his
men in a defensive perimeter on both sides of a 30-foot-high dike upon
whose crest ran a surfaced road which joined at this point with the Seoul-Inch'on
That afternoon the North Koreans apparently were too busy in the battle
at the western edge of the city to give much attention to the unit in their
rear, although small groups did make feeble efforts against it. But at
dusk five tanks attacked A Company. In the battle between bazooka and tank
the bazooka was victorious, the latter knocking out one and damaging two
of the tanks. The two undamaged tanks, with machine guns blazing and cannon
booming, made five passes along the deeply dug-in infantry at thirty yards'
distance from the levee. Then the tanks withdrew into the city. At 2100
an enemy infantry force attacked the 3d Platoon at the northern end of
the company perimeter. The platoon repulsed five separate attacks there
before midnight. Morning disclosed more than 275 enemy dead in the vicinity
of the dike and road intersection and many automatic weapons scattered
about on the ground. 
On 21 September two developments behind the front occurred that were
to affect future tactical operations. First, the third regiment of the
1st Marine Division, the 7th Marines, arrived in Inch'on harbor and began
unloading. Second, command of the operation passed from Admiral Struble
to General Almond, who at 1800 assumed command of the Seoul operation ashore
at the X Corps command post in Inch'on. At this time there were 49,568
persons, 5,356 vehicles, and 22,222 tons of cargo ashore. 
The North Koreans, after their failure during the night of 21-22 September
to drive Captain Barrow's company from its advanced position at the eastern
edge of Yongdungp'o, apparently abandoned the city before daybreak. The
1st Marines occupied the city the next morning. On the left near the river
they reached the destroyed railroad and highway bridges over the Han River
two miles east of Yongdungp'o. 
The 87th Regiment of the N.K. 9th Division
and elements of the N.K. 18th Division had defended Yongdungp'o.
One battalion of the 87th Regiment reportedly suffered 80
percent casualties in the fighting there. Prisoners revealed that this
regiment had left Kumch'on on 16 September to reinforce the Seoul area,
traveling in trains that hid in tunnels during the day, and had arrived
in the Yongdungp'o area on 20 September, barely in time to enter the fight
On the 22d, the 1st Marine Division issued an operations order setting
forth its plan for the seizure of Seoul. The 1st Marines was to cross the Han in the Yongdungp'o area and join the
5th Marines north of the river, forming the division right, while the 7th
Marines was to move up from Inch'on and go into the line north of the 5th
Marines, which then would form the center of a 3-regiment line. The plan
contemplated that the 1st Marine Division, without the help of other ground
units, would capture the city. But that same day, General Almond introduced
one change in the plan-he indicated that the ROK Marines and the ROK 17th
Regiment were also to be committed in securing the city. 
Securing the Southern Flank
As the 1st Marines fought its way along the Inch'on-Seoul highway and
into Yongdungp'o, the 7th Infantry Division protected its right flank and
engaged enemy units moving toward the battle area from the south. An extensive
mine field delayed the 32d Regiment on the 20th as it attacked toward Anyang-ni
where it was to cut the Seoul-Suwon highway. Exploding mines damaged three
tanks of A Company, 73d Tank Battalion, and completely blocked the narrow
dirt road the column was following. Colonel Beauchamp, the regimental commander,
had a narrow escape. A mine destroyed his jeep, killing the driver and
wounding the radio operator a few minutes after he had left it. Engineer
troops removed more than 150 mines from this field. The regiment during
the day captured T'ongdok Mountain and part of Copper Mine Hill. 
On the 21st, the 32d Infantry seized the rest of Copper Mine Hill. It
also captured the high ground two miles south of Yongdungp'o and Hill 300,
the high ground immediately northeast of Anyang-ni. The 7th Division Reconnaissance
Company arrived at Anyang-ni at 1430. When darkness fell, the 3d Battalion,
32d Infantry, held blocking positions astride the Suwon highway two miles
south of Anyang-ni, the 1st Battalion held the road east and the high ground
northeast of the town, and elements of the regimental combat team had established
contact northward at Toksan-ni with the 2d Battalion, where the latter
had captured a considerable quantity of ordnance and medical supplies.
After arriving at Anyang-ni with the Reconnaissance Company, Maj. Irwin
A. Edwards, Assistant G-2, 7th Division, received radio orders from the
division to turn south to Suwon and secure the airfield below the town.
Approximately at 1600, 2d Lt. Jesse F. Van Sant, commanding a tank platoon,
took the point with his tanks and, followed by the Reconnaissance Company
and Major Edwards, started toward Suwon. Naval aircraft bombed Suwon just
before they arrived there at 1800 and destroyed a large wooden structure
on top of the ancient great stone wall at its East Gate. Debris from this
structure blocked the gateway and forced the company to turn aside to find another entrance into the town. At this point, Lt. Col.
Henry Hampton, 7th Division G-3, arrived from Anyang-ni with a platoon
of B Company, 18th Engineer Combat Battalion, and joined the group.
Hampton and Edwards with two enlisted men led the column through the
streets. Near the center of Suwon the four men surprised two North Korean
officers in the act of trying to escape in an American jeep. Edwards shot
the driver; the other officer, a major of the N.K. 105th Armored
Division, surrendered. The armored column engaged in some street
fighting with scattered groups of enemy soldiers, capturing altogether.
thirty-seven North Koreans. Three miles south of Suwon the column went
into a perimeter defense astride the highway. Being without maps, it had
unwittingly passed the airfield a mile back up the road. 
About 2100 a full moon rose and Maj. Gen. David G. Barr, having lost
radio contact with the Reconnaissance Company, decided to send an armored
force toward Suwon to find it. Colonel Hampton and the platoon of engineers
had already loaded into a truck and gone ahead. Task Force Hannum, named
after its commander, Lt. Col. Calvin S. Hannum, commanding the 73d Tank
Battalion, started from Anyang-ni at 2125. This motorized force-comprised
of B Company, 73d Tank Battalion, and the battalion Advance Command Group;
K Company, 32d Infantry; C Battery, 48th Field Artillery Battalion; and
a medical detachment-hurried south in the moonlight with all possible speed.
Lt. Col. John W. Paddock, 7th Division G-2, accompanied it. On the way
to Suwon, Colonel Paddock established radio contact with Major Edwards
and asked for guides to direct him and his force into the perimeter. 
Hannum's armored column reached Suwon near midnight, found the East
Gate blocked, and turned aside to enter the town from another point through
the ancient stone wall that girds the town on that side. Inside the town
an enemy tank hidden behind a building opened fire on the leading American
tank, knocking it out with one shot and killing Capt. Harold R. Beavers,
the B Company tank commander who was inside it. In the fight that flared
in the next few minutes other American tanks destroyed this T34, but a
second enemy tank escaped. Hannum's force tried to follow it but became
lost at the edge of town. Hannum decided to wait for daylight rather than
to risk another enemy tank ambush in the darkness.
Meanwhile, Edwards' party in its perimeter south of Suwon heard the
sound of tanks northward. Lieutenant Van Sant thought their clatter sounded
like T34's, but the others discounted his comments and hastened preparations
to send a party to meet Hannum. Major Edwards put a Korean civilian and
eight men from the Reconnaissance Company into two jeeps. Colonel Hampton
said he would go along and possibly continue on to rejoin the 7th Division
headquarters at Anyang-ni. The party started with Edwards driving the first
of four jeeps. A mile northward Edwards saw four tanks approaching in the moonlight. He flicked his lights
in a recognition signal for what he thought was Hannum's lead tank. The
tank stopped. Then suddenly its machine guns started firing, and it came
on toward the halted vehicles. The men jumped from the jeeps and scrambled
into the ditches. Colonel Hampton, however, started toward the tank waving
his arms, evidently still thinking them friendly. Machine gun fire cut
him down and the oncoming tank crunched into Edwards' jeep. Edwards escaped
and rejoined the Reconnaissance Company the next morning.
The North Korean tanks rumbled on south and a few minutes later the
first one entered the Reconnaissance Company's perimeter. Just ahead of
it, an escapee from the jeep party ran into the perimeter and gave the
alarm. The second enemy tank reached the edge of the perimeter. Van Sant
gave the order to fire. The American M26 tanks destroyed both T34's at
point-blank range of forty yards or less. The other two T34's turned and
clattered back toward Suwon. 
At daylight Hannum led his armored column south through the town, now
deserted. Below it he passed the crushed jeeps and the bodies of Hampton
and two or three other men killed there. At midmorning Hannum's armored
force joined the Reconnaissance Company at Suwon Airfield where Major Edwards
had moved it and Van Sant's tanks at daybreak. Before noon, Col. Richard
P. Ovenshine's 31st Infantry Regiment of the 7th Division (less the 3d
Battalion in division reserve) arrived at Suwon and relieved Task Force
Hannum at the airfield. The Reconnaissance Company then reconnoitered south
toward Osan. Task Force Hannum rejoined the 7th Division in the Anyang-ni
The big event of 22 September was securing Suwon Airfield and opening
it to United Nations air traffic. This field, 21 miles south of Seoul,
could accommodate the large C-54 transport planes with its 5,200-foot runway.
Meanwhile, 7 miles northeast of Anyang-ni, enemy forces succeeded in
ambushing the lead platoon of B Company, 32d Infantry, and badly disorganized
it. Lt. Col. Don C. Faith, Jr., the 1st Battalion commander, withdrew B
Company 2 miles, to the vicinity of Kwanmun-dong, closely pursued by the
enemy. There the battalion checked the North Koreans. During the day, Lt.
Col. Charles M. Mount's 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, seized the series of
hills from 1 to 2 miles south of the rail and highway bridges that crossed
the Han into Seoul.
On 23 September, the 1st Battalion captured its objective, Hill 290.
This hill, 3 miles below the Han River and 7 miles southeast of Yongdungp'o,
dominates the approaches to the Han River and Seoul from that direction.
On the morning of 24 September, Mount's battalion in a predawn attack caught North Koreans asleep in
their positions and overran them. In this surprise action the battalion
captured a regimental headquarters and much equipment, and broke the remaining
enemy strength close to the south bank of the river opposite Seoul. During
the day the battalion cleared the south bank of the Han in the fold of
the river southeast of the city. This made possible an important action
the next morning. 
Seoul's Western Ramparts
While the 7th Division was securing X Corps' southern flank, the heaviest
fighting in the battle for Seoul began at the city's western edge on 22
September and lasted four days.
The North Korean defense line at the western edge of Seoul was anchored
at the north on Hill 296 just south of the Kaesong highway and west of
Seoul's Sodaemun Prison. From the crest of Hill 296 the North Korean line
curved in a gentle half-moon eastward and southward down spur ridges two
and a half miles to the Han River, the concave side facing west toward
the United Nations troops. The greater part of this uneven ridge line was
dominated by three hills, each 105 meters high, and accordingly known as
Hills 105. Hills 105 North and 105 Center lay north of the rail and highway
lines running into Seoul along the northern bank of the Han River; Hill
105 South lay between the rail and road lines and the river. Hills 105
Center and 105 South completely dominated the Pusan-to-Manchuria Kyonggi
main rail line and the road that passed through the saddle between them
to enter the city. These hills had been a training area for Japanese troops
during the period of Japanese domination and since then of both South and
North Korean soldiers. The area was well covered with various types of
field fortifications and susceptible to quick organization for defense.
The main railroad station and Government House lay in the center of Seoul
two miles east of these positions.
The principal enemy unit manning this line was the N.K. 25th
Brigade. Newly formed a month earlier at Ch'orwon, it had started
moving by train from that place to Seoul on the day of the Inch'on landing,
most of it arriving there four days later on 19 September. Maj. Gen. Wol
Ki Chan, forty-five years of age and formerly a student in Russia, commanded
the brigade. Most of the brigade's officers and noncommissioned officers
had had previous combat experience with the Chinese Communist Forces. The
brigade numbered about 2,500 men, and apparently was composed of two infantry
battalions, four heavy machine gun battalions, an engineer battalion, a
76-mm. artillery battalion, a 120-mm. mortar battalion, and miscellaneous
service troops. It and the 78th Independent Regiment
defended both the military and topographic crests. Foxholes, undercut into
the slopes, gave protection from overhead shell air bursts. Concrete caves
held supplies. More than fifty heavy machine guns with interlocking fields
of fire dotted this defensive position. 
On the morning of 22 September the 5th Marines set out to capture these
last hills in front of Seoul. On the north flank the 3d Battalion's objective
was Hill 296. In the center, the objective of the 2d Battalion, ROK Marines,
was Hill 105 Center, but the battalion had to take two knobs called Hills
66 and 88 before reaching the main hill behind them. On the south flank
across the railroad track the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, objective was
Hill 105 South. The attack began at 0700. Two hours later the 3d Battalion
on the north reported it had captured its objective against only moderate
resistance, but this report was misleading because the battalion did not
have control of the southern slopes and ridges of Hill 296 where the North
Korean strength was concentrated. On the southern flank heavy enemy fire
stopped the 1st Battalion for a while, but late in the day it took Hill
105 South after a smashing artillery and mortar preparation. But enemy
artillery scored too, some of its fire landing in the 1st Battalion rear
areas and inflicting thirty-nine casualties there during the day, including
six killed. 
In the center, enemy fire decimated the ROK Marine battalion in its
attack against Hills 66 and 88. The fighting was heavy there all day long.
Marine air strikes tried in vain to destroy the enemy positions. Later,
North Korean prisoners said that the 25th Brigade had 40
percent casualties that day. The next morning, 23 September, the Korean
marines resumed the battle in the center and suffered continuing heavy
casualties, while accomplishing little. At midafternoon the 2d Battalion,
5th Marines, on orders from Colonel Murray, took over the attack in the
center. After sustaining many casualties with little gain, the lead company
(D) dug in for the night, short of the enemy-held ridge. In another furious
fight, one platoon of F Company suffered so many casualties it had only
seven men left for duty at nightfall. Meanwhile, the rest of the regiment
had held in place on the flanks and repelled counterattacks during the
At noon on 23 September General Smith had ordered the 7th Marines, which
had begun unloading at Inch'on on the 21st, to cross the Han and come up
behind the 5th Marines. During the day X Corps headquarters moved from
Inch'on to Ascom City, about halfway to Seoul on the main Inch'on-Seoul
After daylight on the 24th, elements of the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines,
started down the finger ridge from Hill 296, hoping to outflank the enemy
in front of the 2d Battalion in the center. Simultaneously, D Company moved
out in assault against the ridge line. A heavy morning mist shrouded the
company as it crossed the low ground and reached the base of Hill 66. Unexpectedly,
the lead elements came upon enemy troops in their trenches. Neither side
saw the other because of the fog and smoke until they were at close quarters.
A grenade battle started immediately. One squad of twelve marines in trying to maneuver around the southern tip
of the ridge was wiped out except for three wounded who escaped.
In an effort to break the deadlock, Marine air strikes came in repeatedly.
In the course of two such attacks, North Korean antiaircraft fire damaged
five of ten planes. Enemy automatic and mortar fire became intense after
the fog lifted.
In the early afternoon the 30 remaining effectives in D Company's rifle
platoons and 14 other men assembled from the Weapons Platoon; ammunition
carriers, and company headquarters prepared for a desperate assault against
the ridge line of Hill 66. Thirty-three men were to make the assault up
the last 150 yards of the slope-11 others were to follow with machine guns
and ammunition. Corsairs came over for final strafing runs, bombing, and
napalming of the enemy position. This done, the 33 men, at a prearranged
signal of a Corsair's second dry run over the enemy, jumped from their
holes and charged forward in a 100-yard-long line. The D Company commander,
1st Lt. H. J. Smith, was killed in front of his men. The others kept going
and 26 of them reached the top. The headlong charge surprised the North
Koreans; in a sudden panic many ran down the back slope, others feigned
death, and some fought back. Enemy dead were stacked up everywhere-in foxholes,
in bunkers-and many were strewn about over the ground. When all of D Company's
men reached the top there were 56 men to defend it, 26 of them wounded
but refusing evacuation. They held the hill against a counterattack. During
this day, D Company suffered 176 casualties among its 206 men-36 killed,
116 wounded and evacuated, and 26 more wounded but present for duty. 
Events were to prove that D Company's capture of Hill 66 on the afternoon
of the 24th was the decisive action in the battle at the western gate to
Seoul. The 2d Battalion on the morning of the 25th resumed the attack toward
Hill 105 Center. Artillery and fighter bombers pounded the enemy-held hill
line all morning. From recently captured Hill 66, D Company advanced northward
slowly during the morning up the shank of the fishhook ridge line that
slanted southwest from Hill 296, and then turned southeast to capture Hill
88 at the point of the hook just after noon. By midafternoon other elements
of the 2d Battalion had captured Hill 105 Center, and the 3d Battalion
had gained control of Hill 105 North after very heavy fighting. According
to prisoners, three enemy battalions lost 500 men during the day trying
to hold the northern hill. The western defenses of Seoul had fallen. More
than 1,200 dead enemy soldiers lay on their stubbornly defended positions.
Marine estimates placed the total number of enemy killed there by all arms
at 1,750. 
When the enemy defenses at the western edge of Seoul fell on 25 September,
the 1st Marine Division had all its regiments together north of the Han River. At 2200 on the night of 23 September,
the division had issued an operations order, confirming earlier verbal
orders, directing the 1st Marines to cross the Han River early the next.
During the morning of 24 September the 1st Marines began crossing the
Han from Yongdungp'o in the shadow of Hill 105 South, where the 1st Battalion,
5th Marines, protected the crossing site. Before dark the regiment had
crossed to the north side and the 1st and 2d Battalions had taken over
from the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, the southern flank of the Marine line
at the western edge of Seoul. By now the 7th Marines had moved up on the
left flank of the 5th Marines, with the mission of cutting across the northern
edge of Seoul and blocking escape routes there. The 3d Battalion of the
187th Airborne Regiment airlifted from Ashiya, Japan, to Kimpo Airfield
on the 24th and upon arrival there assumed responsibility for the airfield.
On the morning of 25 September, two platoons of tanks from B Company,
1st Tank Battalion, including two dozer tanks and a section of flame-throwing
tanks, accompanied by a platoon of engineers and another of infantry set
out to join the 1st Marines in Seoul. Near the base of Hill 105 South,
an enemy force with several antitank guns ambushed the column. The fighting
was heavy and the outcome in doubt for several minutes until a flame-thrower
tank reached a point from which it spurted flame into the enemy trenches. Many North Korean soldiers broke
from cover. Machine gun fire from other tanks cut them down as they ran.
Several North Koreans came out of a previously undiscovered cave and surrendered.
When a large group inside the cave saw these men unhurt they too surrendered.
Of the nearly 300 North Koreans that attacked this armored column, approximately
150 were killed, 131 captured. The tank column joined Colonel Puller's
1st Marines in Seoul at noon.  During the morning the 3d Battalion,
1st Marines, made a 90-degree turn northward to change the regimental direction
of attack from eastward to northward toward the heart of the city. While
it was doing this, the 1st Battalion on its right held a blocking position
at the southern edge of Seoul. Once the 3d Battalion had turned northward,
the 1st Battalion pivoted to orient its attack northward abreast of and
on the right of it. Street fighting now began in Seoul, 25 September, in
the zone of the 1st Marines just as the 5th Marines completed its capture
of the North Korean defensive hill line at the western edge of the city.
The Infantry Enters Seoul
By this time an important change had taken place in the plan to capture
Seoul. The original operations plan required the 1st Marine Division to
clear the city. But the expected capture of Seoul by the marines was moving
behind schedule. The stubborn enemy defense had denied the Marine division
any important advance for three days. General Almond, the corps commander,
had been growing increasingly impatient. Seoul was a symbol in the Korean
War, just as Paris, Rome, and Berlin had been in World War II. It was a
political and psychological as well as a military target. General MacArthur
desired to capture the city as soon as possible and restore the Korean
capital to its people. 
Dissatisfied with the marines' progress, General Almond on 23 September
told General Smith that he could continue his frontal assaults but that
he strongly urged him to use the space south of the Han River for an envelopment
maneuver by the 1st Marines. Smith was unwilling to act on Almond's suggestion
because he wanted to unite the 1st and 5th Marines on the north side of
the Han instead of having them on opposite sides of the river. Almond told
Smith that he would give him twenty-four hours longer to make headway.
If Smith could not, Almond said, he would change division boundaries and
bring the 7th Infantry Division and its 32d Regiment into the battle for
the envelopment of the enemy defenses in Seoul. 
On the morning of 24 September the North Koreans still held the marines
at the west edge of Seoul. About 0930 General Almond arrived at 7th Division
headquarters and conferred with General Barr, the 7th Division commander,
Brig. Gen. Henry I. Hodes, assistant 7th Division commander, and Col. Louis
T. Heath, the division chief of staff. Almond told Barr he had tentatively
decided that the 7th Division would attack across the Han River into Seoul
the next morning. Almond then returned to his command post and there told
Colonel Paik, commander of the ROK 17th Regiment, that he expected to attach
his regiment to the 32d Infantry for the attack on Seoul. 
His mind now made up, Almond called a commanders' conference to meet
with him at 1400 at Yongdungp'o Circle. Present besides Almond were Generals
Smith, Barr, and Hodes, Colonels Forney and Beauchamp, and Col. John H.
Chiles. In this open-air meeting, Almond quickly told the assembled commanders
that he was changing the boundary between the 1st Marine Division and the
7th Infantry Division, and that the 32d Regiment, with the ROK 17th Regiment
attached, would attack across the Han River into Seoul at 0600 the next
morning. The meeting was brief. At its conclusion the officers dispersed
at once to make their respective plans. 
In the afternoon and evening, X Corps attached the ROK 17th Regiment,
the Marine 1st Amphibious Tractor Battalion (less one company), and two
platoons of A Company, 56th Amphibious Tank and Tractor Battalion, to the
7th Division to support the crossing. 
The crossing was to be at the Sinsa-ri ferry, three miles east of the
main rail and highway bridges over the Han River. On the opposite (north)
bank, South Mountain (Nam-san) extended from the river northwest two miles
into the heart of Seoul, culminating in a peak 900 feet high, the highest
point in the city, about one mile east of the main Seoul rail station.
A long, ridgelike, shallow saddle connected this peak with a slightly lower
one. On a western finger ridge of the main peak, near the 350-foot elevation
and only half a mile from the rail station, was a large shrine and a formally
landscaped park. From the western base of South Mountain a long series
of steps led up to this shrine and park. Viewing Seoul on a north-south
axis, the peak of South Mountain was halfway into the city. Government
House, at the northern edge of the city, lay two miles away. The main highway
and rail line running east out of the city passed about a mile beyond the
northern base of South Mountain. On this mountain nearly three months before,
a company of ROK soldiers had conducted the last action in the defense
of Seoul, dying, it has been said, to the last man.
The 32d Infantry's mission was first to seize and secure South Mountain,
then to secure Hill 120 situated two miles eastward at the southeast edge
of Seoul, and finally to seize and secure Hill 348, a large, high hill mass five miles east of Seoul and dominating
the highway and rail line entering the city from that side. The regiment
had a strength of 4,912 men as it prepared for the crossing-3,110 Americans
and 1,802 ROK's. 
Before daybreak of the 25th, General Hodes established an advanced division
command post near the river from which he was to direct the crossing operation.
At 0400, General Almond, Admiral Struble, and members of the corps staff
departed the X Corps headquarters at Ascom City to watch the crossing of
the 32d Regiment. General Barr went forward at 0430 to the 32d Infantry's
command post and an hour later he and Colonel Beauchamp left for an observation
post near the river. At 0600, the 48th Field Artillery Battalion began
firing a 30-minute artillery preparation, and the heavy mortars joined
in to pound the cliffs lining the opposite side beyond the river bank. 
Colonel Mount's 2d Battalion, selected to make the assault crossing,
loaded into amphibious tractors in its assembly area and at 0630 F Company
started across the Han. A ground fog obscured the river area. The entire
2d Battalion reached the north bank without loss of personnel or equipment.
The 2d Battalion hurried across the narrow river beach, scaled the 30-
to 60-foot cliffs, and moved rapidly to the slopes of South Mountain. An
hour after the first troops had crossed the river the bright morning sun
dispersed the ground fog. Air strikes then came in on South Mountain and
Hill 120. Apparently this crossing surprised the North Koreans. Their works
on South Mountain were only lightly manned.
The 1st Battalion, commanded by Colonel Faith, followed the 2d across
the Han and at 0830 started to move east along the river bank toward Hill
120. Just after noon the 3d Battalion crossed the river, followed the 1st
Battalion eastward, and passed through it to occupy Hill 120. The 1st Battalion
then took a position between the 3d and 2d Battalions. The ROK 17th Regiment
crossed the Han immediately behind the 3d Battalion and moved to the extreme
right flank of the 32d Infantry line where, at 2150, it began an all-night
attack toward Hill 348. 
While the rest of the regiment crossed the Han behind it and moved eastward,
the 2d Battalion climbed the slopes of South Mountain, reaching and clearing
the summit against moderate resistance by 1500. Once there, it immediately
began digging in on a tight perimeter.
The North Koreans did not counterattack South Mountain as quickly as
expected. The night passed tensely but quietly for the waiting 2d Battalion.
Finally, at 0430 on the morning of the 26th, the soldiers heard tanks moving
about and the sound of automatic weapons fire to their front. In semi-darkness
half an hour later a large enemy force, estimated to number approximately
1,000 men, violently counterattacked the 2d Battalion perimeter on top
of South Mountain. On the higher western knob of the mountain, G Company
held its position against this attack, but on the lower eastern knob North
Koreans overran F Company. Using all its reserves, Colonel Mount's battalion
finally restored its positions at 0700 after two hours of battle and drove
the surviving enemy down the slopes. Mount's men counted 110 enemy dead
within its perimeter and 284 more outside for a total of 394 enemy killed.
They took 174 prisoners. 
E Company mopped up enemy troops on the rear slopes of the mountain
and in the area at its base near the river. Later in the morning, elements
of the 1st Battalion had a sharp engagement in the streets immediately
north of South Mountain, capturing there some eighty enemy soldiers, apparently
a remnant of the force that had counterattacked South Mountain.
To the east, the 1st Battalion on the morning of the 26th engaged in
a heavy fire fight while the 3d Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Heinrich
G. Schumann, advanced from Hill 120 toward Hill 348, four miles farther
east. In this advance, L Company saw a large column of enemy troops on
the highway leaving Seoul. The company commander; 1st Lt. Harry J. McCaffrey,
Jr., seized the opportunity for surprise and immediately ordered his men
to attack. His initiative paid off. In the ensuing action, L Company killed
about 500 North Korean soldiers, destroyed 5 tanks, destroyed or captured
more than 40 vehicles, 3 artillery pieces, 7 machine guns, 2 ammunition
dumps, much clothing and POL products, and overran and captured a large
headquarters of corps size, which may have been the principal enemy headquarters
in the defense of Seoul. 
By midafternoon (26 September) the ROK 17th Regiment had captured Hills
348 and 292 dominating the highway four miles east of Seoul. That evening
the 32d Infantry and the ROK 17th Regiment cleared their zone of the enemy,
and E Company established contact with the marines on the regimental left
at the western base of South Mountain.
Battle of the Barricades
On 25 September, while the 32d Infantry crossed the Han and seized South
Mountain, the 1st Marine Division entered Seoul proper. When the 1st Marine
Regiment turned north that day, ahead of it lay the main Seoul railroad
station. the French, American, and Russian consulates, the City Hall, the
Duk Soo Palace of ancient rulers of Korea and Museum of Art, and the main
business and hotel area. The 5th Marines, on the other hand, was just entering
the city in the northwest quarter, pointed generally eastward toward Government
House two miles away. Its course would take it past big Sodaemun Prison.
Beyond Government House lay Changdok Palace and the Royal Gardens. That
evening the 1st and 5th Marines made plans for a co-ordinated attack the
Just before dusk an air report claimed that enemy columns were streaming
north out of the city. General Almond at X Corps headquarters immediately
sent a message to the Far East Air Forces requesting a flare mission to
illuminate the roads so that Marine night fighters could attack the enemy
troops. A B-29 dropped flares for several hours and two long columns of
enemy soldiers came under air attack. Corps artillery placed interdiction
fire on the closer portions of the escape route. 
At 2040 that evening a X Corps flash message from General Almond came
over the teletype to the 1st Marine Division saying, "X Corps TACAir
Commander reports enemy fleeing city of Seoul on road north.... He is conducting
heavy air attack and will continue same. You will push attack now to the limit of your objective
in order to insure maximum destruction of enemy forces."  Col.
Alpha L. Bowser, 1st Marine Division operations officer, doubted that the
enemy was fleeing the city. He telephoned the X Corps operations officer
and questioned the order to "attack now," but that officer told
him to attack as ordered. Bowser then gave the message to General Smith
who in turn telephoned General Ruffner, X Corps chief of staff, objecting
to the order. Smith did not believe the enemy was leaving Seoul and he
did not want to attack through the city at night. Ruffner told him that
Almond personally had dictated the order and that it was to be executed
without delay. General Smith then telephoned Colonels Puller and Murray
at 2200 and transmitted the order. He told them to concentrate their advance
along avenues that could be identified easily at night, and ordered the
three Marine regiments to establish contact with each other. 
Within a few minutes after the 5th Marines received the order for the
night attack, an enemy force of approximately 200 men struck its 3d Battalion.
Fighting continued until 0445 when the battalion repulsed the North Koreans.
Meanwhile, regimental patrols sent south and southeast to establish contact
with the 1st Marines failed to do so. Likewise, patrols of the 7th Marines
from the north failed to establish contact with the 5th Marines. Except
for its patrols, the 5th Marines did not move forward during the night
from its evening positions. 
After receiving the order for the night attack, Colonel Puller ordered
the 1st Marines to prepare to attack at 0145 after a 15-minute artillery
preparation. A patrol from the 3d Battalion moved out at the conclusion
of this preparation and a short distance away encountered a large enemy
force preparing to counterattack. Some members of the patrol escaped and
gave the alarm. The battalion at 0153 sent a flash message to Colonel Puller
that an enemy tank-led force was on the point of attacking it. Puller thereupon
ordered a second 15-minute artillery barrage to be fired directly in front
of the 3d Battalion, the Marine attack to follow that.
This second barrage, together with mortar, tank, and automatic fire
caught an estimated force of 700 North Koreans, supported by twelve tanks,
two self-propelled guns, and 120-mm. mortar fire, attacking straight down
the main boulevard, and decimated it. The lead enemy tank struck a mine
at a Marine street block and bazookas destroyed others. Burning buildings
illuminated the street scene in front of the 3d Battalion. The enemy attack
continued until daylight although it became progressively weaker. After
daylight the marines captured 83 prisoners, counted 250 enemy dead, and
saw four tanks and two self-propelled guns knocked out in front of them.
Because of the enemy counterattack during the night and the lack of contact between its regiments, the
Marine division did not launch a night attack as ordered. Its lines after
daylight, 26 September, were substantially the same as they had been the
It appears that after the seizure of South Mountain by the 32d Infantry
and the reduction of the hill defenses at the western edge of the city
by the 5th Marines during the 25th, the North Korean commander in Seoul
decided the city was doomed and began the withdrawal of certain units that
evening while leaving others to fight desperate delaying actions. The aerial
reports of enemy columns fleeing the city and General Almond's conclusion
that the North Koreans were evacuating Seoul were therefore not without
foundation. The major enemy unit withdrawing at this time was the N.K.
18th Division which had fought south of the Han River in
the Yongdungp'o area. On 24 September it had assembled in Seoul, and the
next evening the approximately 5,000 men remaining in the division retreated
northward on the Uijongbu road, headed for Ch'orwon. At the same time,
to cover this withdrawal, the North Korean commander struck with desperate
counterattacks at every point of American advance into the city. Against
the 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, on South Mountain he struck with one battalion
and at other elements of the regiment eastward with another battalion.
The heavy counterattack against the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, he launched
in reinforced battalion strength; while against the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, he sent a reinforced company. 
After the enemy attacks died away with the coming of daylight on the
26th, the marines launched their attack. In a day-long effort down Ma-Po
Boulevard the 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, gained less than a mile, and very
little at all after 1400. Snipers fired from houses along the way and enemy
soldiers manned barricades, making of each one a small battlefield. The
5th Marines had even stronger opposition in trying to advance from a spur
of Hill 296 into the city and made only slight gains, but it did establish
contact with the 1st Marines.
Just after noon, the Marine division brought Col. Homer L. Litzenberg's
7th Marines into the fight for Seoul proper, directing it to seize the
mountain pass north of the city, and to cut the highway running northeast
out of Seoul for Uijongbu and Ch'orwon at a point one mile northeast of
Government House. The regiment's D Company turned down the Kaesong-Seoul
highway toward the city, seeking to establish contact with the 5th Marines,
but came under heavy enemy fire at 0830 opposite Sodaemun Prison at the
northwest corner of Seoul. The company suffered many casualties there and,
unable to advance farther, withdrew to a road cut between Hills 296 and
338 where it established a perimeter defense. That afternoon two planes
dropped ammunition and medical supplies to it. Enemy fire hit both planes,
and one crash-landed at Kimpo. Friendly tanks succeeded in reaching D Company's
perimeter and carried out the wounded. At dusk on Tuesday, 26 September,
X Corps troops held approximately half the city. 
About twenty hours earlier, just before midnight of the 25th, General
Almond had announced the liberation of Seoul, three months to the day after
the North Koreans began the invasion. Almond apparently based his announcement
on air reports of North Korean evacuation of the city and the seizure of
South Mountain during the day. On the 26th, General MacArthur signed and
released United Nations Command Communiqué 9 at 1410 announcing
the fall of Seoul. The communiqué said in part, "Seoul, the
capital of the Republic of Korea, is again in friendly hands. United Nations
forces, including the 17th Regiment of the ROK Army and elements of the
U.S. 7th and 1st Marine Divisions, have completed the envelopment and seizure
of the city."  In subsequent communiqués MacArthur made
no mention of further fighting in Seoul, confining comment to combat operations
in the Suwon area south of the city.
But on 27 September, the battle of the barricades in Seoul continued.
In the middle part of Seoul the barricades stretched across the streets
from side to side and were usually placed at intersections. Mostly they
were chest-high and made of rice and fiber bags filled with earth. From
behind them and at their sides enemy soldiers fired antitank guns and swept the streets with
machine gun fire. Other soldiers were posted in adjacent buildings. Antitank
mines belted the streets in front of the barricades.
The Marine attack settled into a routine for reducing the barricades.
Navy and Marine planes would rocket and strafe them, mortarmen and infantry
would set up a base of fire covering the engineers while they exploded
the mines, two or three Pershing tanks would advance to the barricade,
take it under fire destroying antitank guns and automatic weapons, and
breach it. Occasionally, flame-throwing tanks rumbled up to stubbornly
held positions and helped reduce the barrier. Infantry accompanying and
following the tanks gave them protection, destroyed snipers, and cleared
the area. A single barricade might hold up a battalion advance as much
as an hour.
On the 27th, the 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, drove down Ma-Po Boulevard
into the heart of the city, capturing the French Embassy and raising the
American flag over it just before 1100. Richard J. H. Johnston, a correspondent
for the New York Times who had lived in Seoul for four years, guided
Capt. Charles D. Frederick and his E Company men in the afternoon to the
Soviet Embassy, where they pulled down the Red flag and raised the American
at 1530. They then crossed over to the adjacent American Embassy and raised
the American flag over it seven minutes later. North Korean machine gunners
at the gate of the American Embassy surrendered without firing. The 1st
Battalion meanwhile captured the railroad station in the morning in fairly
heavy action and then encountered a series of strongly defended barricades
along the main thoroughfare leading northward into the center of the city.
ROK marines followed the 1st Battalion, mopping up behind it. 
In the northwestern part of the city, the 5th Marines advanced on the
27th against relatively light resistance. Overnight the opposition of the
previous day had largely vanished. On the regimental north flank, E Company
without opposition entered Sodaemun Prison. Earlier a tank-led force from
the 7th Marines had relieved D Company in its perimeter just beyond the
prison. A Korean civilian informed troops of E Company, 5th Marines, that
about five days earlier approximately 400 American prisoners held in the
prison had been removed and taken northward. At midafternoon, the 5th Marines
established contact with the 7th Marines in the northwest corner of Seoul.
The main axis of attack of the 5th Marine Regiment, however, was farther
south. There the 3d Battalion secured the Seoul Middle School and Hill
79 just to the north of it by 1015, and reorganized for the attack toward
Government House, its major objective. From the Seoul Middle School the
battalion advanced due east to Kwang Who Moon Circle, where a memorial
shrine stood. From behind a barricade at this intersection the North Koreans
put up their last organized resistance in the heart of the city. A flame-throwing
tank clanked across the large circular plaza and ended this resistance.
From Kwang Who Moon Circle a broad and, in peacetime, imposingly beautiful,
modern boulevard also named Kwang Who Moon runs north one-half mile, terminating
in front of the modern and handsome Government House. After the tanks had
reduced the barricade at Kwang Who Moon Circle, G Company, 5th Marines,
advanced without opposition down the boulevard to Government House "as
fast as they could walk," as one who was present has written. The
company had possession of the building at 1508, and immediately thereafter
struck the North Korean flags flying from the flag poles on either side
of the Court of Lions in front of the building and raised in their place
the American flag.
The breakthrough to Government House apparently caught some North Korean
officials or stragglers there by surprise, compelling a hasty getaway,
for upon entering the troops found hot food ready for eating. The battalion
cleared the area of snipers and stragglers during the afternoon, and that
night the 3d Battalion established its command post in the building. 
During that morning, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, following behind
the 3d Battalion, turned off to the left after reaching the Seoul Middle
School and attacked north to Hill 338, a key terrain feature a mile northwest
of Government House. At 1900 it secured the hill which dominated the Seoul-Pyongyang
highway at the northwest corner of the city. Except for scattered snipers
and stragglers, the last defenders of Seoul withdrew from the city that
The next day, 28 September, although its 1st Battalion had to contend
with many mines, the 1st Marines swept through the northeast corner of
Seoul against only light resistance to complete its occupation. By evening
the regiment had taken Hills 132 and 133, at the northeast edge of Seoul,
dominating the Seoul-Uijongbu-Ch'orwon highway. A mile farther north, the
enemy held the 7th Marines in check short of its objective, Hill 224 the
key terrain feature on the other, west, side of the highway. 
Enemy resistance in Seoul had ended-the North Korean forces were withdrawing
northward in the direction of Uijongbu just ninety days after they had
victoriously entered the city in their bid for conquest of South Korea.
MacArthur Re-establishes Sygman Rhee in Seoul
After his return to Tokyo, General MacArthur on 23 September sent a
message to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington saying in part, "I
plan to return President Rhee, his cabinet, senior members of the legislature,
the U.N. Commission and perhaps others of similar official category to
domicile in Seoul as soon as conditions there are sufficiently stable to
permit reasonable security."  The combat situation in Seoul did
not permit final plans for the ceremony until 27 and 28 September.
General MacArthur and his party arrived at Kimpo Airfield from Tokyo at 1000, 29 September. General Almond
and other high-ranking officers met the party and proceeded with it to
Seoul. During the night bulldozers had worked to clear the main streets
of barricades and the litter of battle. Wildly cheering throngs of South
Koreans assembled and lined the streets in the shell-tom, burning city.
The 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, provided security along the route from the
Han River pontoon bridge; the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, provided security
around Government House. 
The National Assembly Hall in Government House was packed with selected
South Korean officials and citizens and representatives of the combat units
that had liberated Seoul. At 1200, General MacArthur came into the chamber
with President Rhee and proceeded to the dais where important officers
and officials were seated, including General Walker and a few Eighth Army
officers who had flown to Seoul on MacArthur's invitation. The Austrian-born
wife of President Rhee took her place beside her husband. MacArthur began
forthwith to deliver his short address in sonorous voice and unhurried
Mr. President: By the grace of a merciful Providence our forces fighting
under the standard of that greatest hope and inspiration of mankind, the
United Nations, have liberated this ancient capital city of Korea.
He spoke of the ravages of war that had visited the land, of the righteous
wrath and indignation that had caused fifty-three nations to pledge their
aid to the Republic of Korea, and of the spiritual revulsion against Communism.
Then, turning to President Rhee, he continued:
In behalf of the United Nations Command I am happy to restore to you,
Mr. President, the seat of your government that from it you may better
fulfill your constitutional responsibilities.
The assemblage then joined MacArthur in reciting the Lord's Prayer.
While MacArthur spoke slivers of glass fell from the partially shattered
glass-paneled roof, but he gave them no heed. 
Aging but indomitable, Syngman Rhee rose to express the gratitude of
the Republic of Korea for the liberation of its capital city. All but overcome
with emotion, he departed from his prepared text and stretching out his
hands, clenching and unclenching them, spoke to that part of the audience
made up of American soldiers, "How can I ever explain to you my own
undying gratitude and that of the Korean people?"
The short ceremony over, General MacArthur left at once for Kimpo Airfield
and at 1335 departed for Tokyo.
The capture of Seoul led to a series of exchanges between officials
of the United States Government and MacArthur. President Truman sent a
message which said in part, "Few operations in military history can
match either the delaying action where you traded space for time in which
to build up your forces, or the brilliant maneuver which has now resulted
in the liberation of Seoul." From the Joint Chiefs of Staff MacArthur received a message which read in part, "Your transition
from defensive to offensive operations was magnificently planned, timed,
and executed.... We remain completely confident that the great task entrusted
to you by the United Nations will be carried to a successful conclusion."
MacArthur sent his thanks to the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
saying he would publish their messages to all elements of his command.
The Blocking Force South of Seoul
While the greater part of X Corps concentrated its strength before Seoul
and was preoccupied with its capture, the blocking force of the 31st Infantry
Regiment, 7th Division, thirty miles below the city, was not without action.
On 23 September, when Colonel Ovenshine's 31st Infantry Regiment assumed
responsibility for Suwon and Suwon Airfield, its mission was to clear the
enemy from Suwon and to seize and hold the high ground south of the airfield:
Prisoners captured in Suwon by the Reconnaissance Company reported that
a regiment of the 105th Armored Division was in Choch'iwon
on the 18th, only fifty air miles to the south, and on its way north to
help the Seoul garrison. If this was true, it had to be assumed that this
armored force must be approaching the 31st Infantry position. Accordingly,
the regiment kept the area south of Suwon under close observation. 
During the night of 24 September, the 2d Battalion, 31st Infantry, on
high ground (Hill 142) two miles south of the Suwon Airfield came under
attack an hour before midnight, and enemy armor struck the battalion's
left flank resting on the Suwon-Osan highway. The battalion, with the supporting
artillery fire of the 57th Field Artillery Battalion and of B Battery,
15th Field Artillery Battalion, repulsed the attack and knocked out four
T34 tanks. The next day the 92d Field Artillery Battalion moved to Suwon
to strengthen the forces there. Aerial reconnaissance on the 25th and 26th
reported enemy entrenchments in the hills dominating both sides of the
highway and rail line just north of Osan, eight to ten miles south of Suwon
and two to three miles south of the American position. 
On the 26th, Colonel Ovenshine ordered the 2d Battalion to attack and
seize the high ground held by the North Koreans near Osan. Interestingly
enough, this included the positions where Task Force Smith had met and
delayed the North Koreans briefly on 5 July in the first American ground
action of the war. The 3d Battalion, less I Company, stood ready to reinforce
the 2d Battalion. Ovenshine started the 2d Battalion Task Force-composed
of E, F, and part of G Companies and two platoons of tanks-on a wide, flanking
movement southeastwardly toward Osan to attack the enemy positions from
the rear. At the same time, he formed another attack force composed of
elements of G and H Companies, and A Company, 73d Tank Battalion, to attack south along the highway.
By daylight of the 27th, the flanking force arrived at Osan. A bazooka
team destroyed an enemy tank that fired on the column. The force then moved
through Osan and engaged the enemy on the hills northward. Attacking down
the road simultaneously from the north, the second force was stopped by
strong enemy tank, antitank gun, mortar, and small arms fire. Fighting
continued throughout the clear, warm autumn day, with the 31st Infantry
making only small gains. Prisoners captured in the action said that the
enemy force was indeed from the 105th Armored Division.
While its ground gains were slight, the 31st Infantry claimed the destruction
or immobilization of 14 tanks, 6 antitank guns, and several mortars, and
the infliction of 300 North Korean casualties. The 31st Infantry's two
attack forces dug in that night around Hill 113 where the main enemy force
was concentrated. Maj. Lester K. Olson, the regimental S-3, and Lt. Col.
Robert R. Summers, the 2d Battalion commander, were both seriously wounded
during the day. 
On the morning of the 28th, the American infantry withdrew at 0830 almost
a mile westward from their overnight positions to make sure that they would
not suffer casualties from air strikes scheduled to come in against Hills
113 and 92. Beginning at noon and continuing for fifty minutes, seven Navy
planes attacked both hills and the railroad tunnel area just east of Hill
92, using napalm extensively. When the air strikes ended, the 57th and
92d Field Artillery Battalions pounded the hills for thirty minutes, the
Heavy Mortar Company joining in the preparation. When it ended, K and L
Companies attacked eastward against Hill 113. By 1515 they had secured
the hill against only light resistance, and from there L Company attacked
across the saddle to Hill 92, 600 yards away, supported by K Company fire
from Hill 113. An hour later the 31st Infantry held both hills-taken without
a single casualty to itself. Surviving enemy troops withdrew eastward.
The road between Suwon and Osan was open. The next day the 31st Infantry
buried more than a hundred enemy dead on the captured positions. 
While the 31st Infantry was clearing the Osan highway, the 2d Battalion,
17th Infantry, 7th Division, fought its first battle of the war on 29 September
in a heavy fire fight against an enemy force at the southeast side of Seoul.
In this action, which continued after dark, the battalion suffered seventy-nine
casualties. That night the 48th Field Artillery Battalion laid down a barrage
which effectively broke up an attempted enemy counterattack. The North
Koreans reportedly suffered more than 400 men killed. 
On 30 September the 1st Marine Division assumed responsibility for the 32d Infantry zone in Seoul and
that unit then crossed back to the south side of the Han River.
The X Corps Situation
After the capture of Seoul, the 1st Marine Division cleared enemy troops
from the northern environs of the city. On 1 October, elements of the 5th
Marines patrolled the P'yongyang highway as far as Munsan-ni and the Imjin
River. They encountered only scattered individual enemy riflemen except
in the vicinity of Munsan-ni.
The 7th Marines, at the same time, advanced up the Uijongbu road north
of the city against almost no resistance, hampered only by mines. But the
next day, 2 October, the regiment made virtually no gains. Three battalions
of the 31st Regiment, N.K. 31st Division, well
dug-in on either side of the highway, stopped the regiment in hard fighting
three miles south of Uijongbu in the vicinity of Nuwon-ni. There high mountains
closing in on either side of the highway created a natural fortress. 
During the night, the enemy blocking force withdrew northward, and on
3 October tanks led the 2d Battalion into Uijongbu in the afternoon. Marine
and Navy air strikes had completely destroyed the town. The 7th Marines
occupied the high ground just north of Uijongbu and consolidated its position
around the town for the night. The fighting of 2-3 October in front of
Uijongbu was the last organized resistance the 1st Marine Division encountered
in the Inch'on-Seoul operation.
Before being driven from Seoul, the North Koreans had taken ghastly
revenge on men, women, and children in the families of South Korean soldiers,
policemen, and guerrillas.
The Seoul operation disclosed that the preinvasion estimate of 5,000
organized troops in the city was low and that, instead, there were approximately
8,000 such troops in Seoul and 5,000 more in the Yongdungp'o area. Reinforcements
after the landing at Inch'on brought the total enemy troops in Seoul to
at least 20,000. And there were at least 10,000 enemy soldiers between
the Han River and Suwon. Below Suwon in the Osan area there were from 2,000
to 3,000 more. It appears that altogether somewhat more than 30,000 North
Korean troops entered battle in the Inch'on-Suwon-Seoul area, and that
there were perhaps 10,000 more miscellaneous soldiers in the vicinity,
uncommitted or who arrived too late to be used. The X Corps reported 7,000
North Korean prisoners taken in the fighting and estimated enemy troops
killed at 14,000. 
The 1st Marine Division did not lose a single tank to enemy tank action
in the Seoul operation but lost several to enemy infantry action. An accurate count of the enemy tanks destroyed in the X Corps operation is hard
to make, but it appears that approximately 45 to 50 were destroyed in the
Inch'on-Yongdungp'o-Seoul area and about 10 to 15 more in the Suwon-Osan
area, or about 60 altogether. The North Koreans lost a great amount of
other military equipment in the Seoul operation. The 1st Marine Division
alone reported that it had destroyed or captured 23 120-mm. mortars, 19
45-mm. antitank guns, 56 heavy machine guns, 337 light and submachine guns,
59 14.5 antitank rifles, and 7,543 rifles. 
The Inch'on-Seoul victory cost the United Nations forces approximately
3,500 casualties. The 7th Infantry Division suffered 572 battle casualties,
including 106 killed, 409 wounded, and 57 missing in action. Of the total,
166 were ROK soldiers integrated into the division. Within the division,
the 32d Regiment lost 66 killed, 272 wounded, and 47 missing. The heaviest
losses in X Corps occurred in the 1st Marine Division which suffered total
casualties of 2,383 men-364 killed, 53 who died of wounds, 1,961 wounded,
and 5 missing. Marine losses were heaviest for the six days from 21 to
27 September. During that time it suffered 1,482 battle casualties, the
greatest single day's loss being 285 on 24 September. 
 Interv, author with Almond, 13 Dec 51.
 5th Mar SAR in 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. III, p. 9, 19 Sep 50; Diary of
CG X Corps, 19 Sep 50; Montross and Canzona, The Inchon-Seoul Operation,
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. B, app. 2, pp. 5, 19; Ibid., an. C, G-3
Sec, p. 14, 20 Sep 50; Ibid., vol. III, p. 10.
 Ibid., vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, 21 Sep 50, p. 15; ATIS Interrog Rpts,
Issue 8, p. 108, Rpt 1376, Lt Chai Chan Ya; Geer, The New Breed, p. 155.
 Diary of CG X Corps, 21 Sep 50.
 Montross and Canzona, The Inchon-Seoul Operation, pp. 216-19; Geer,
The New Breed, pp. 136-37.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, Annex Charlie, G-3 Sec, 20 Sep 50, p. 14:
Diary of CG X Corps, 20 Sep 50; A Corps WD, Opn CHROMITE, 20 Sep 50.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, G-3 Sec, 21 Sep 50, pp. 15, 19; Diary of CG
X Corps, 21 Sep 50; Montross and Canzona, The Inchon-Seoul Operation,
 Geer, The New Breed, p. 149.
 Montross and Canzona, The Inchon Seoul Operation, pp. 228-31; Geer,
The New Breed, pp. 151-53.
 TF 7, Inch'on Rpt, I-F-3; Diary of CG X Corps. 21 Sep 50.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, 22-23 Sep 50, pp. 17-19; X
Corps WD, G-2 Sec Hist Rpt, PIR 4, 22 Sep 50.
 GHQ FEC, History of the North Korean Army (section of 9th Div), 31
Jul 52; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 100, p. 53; X Corps WD, PIR
4, 22 Sep 50.
 Diary of CG X Corps, 22 Sep 50; 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, G-3
Sec, p. 17, Opn Plan 3-50, 22 Sep 50.
 32d Inf WD, 20 Sep 50: 7th Div POR 2, overlay, 202200 Sep 50;
Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52.
 Ltr, Lt Col Irwin A. Edwards to author, 5 Aug 53: Interv, author
with Barr, 1 Feb 54; Beauchamp, MS review comments for author, 19 Jan
 Ltr. Edwards to author, 5 Aug 53; X Corps WD. G-2 Hist Rpt, PIR 4,
22 Sep 50.
 Interv, author with Hannum, 21 Jul 53; 7th Div WD, Narr, 21-22 Sep
50; Ltr, Edwards to author, 5 Aug 53.
 Interv, author with Hannum, 21 Jul 53; Ltrs, Edwards to author, 5
and 13 Aug 53; Ltr, Beauchamp to author, 15 Jul 53; Beauchamp, MS review
comments for author, 19 Jan 54; 7th Div WD, 21 Sep 50; 32d Inf WD, 21
Sep 50; New York Herald Tribune, September 23, 1950, Bigart dispatch.
 Interv, Hannum with author, 21 Jul 53; Ltrs, Edwards to author, 5
and 13 Aug 53; 7th Inf Div WD, 22 Sep 50; 31st Inf Narr Rpt, 22 Sep 50;
X Corps WD, 21-22 Sep 50.
 32d Inf WD, 22 Sep 50; 7th Div WD, 22 Sep 50; 7th Div POR's 4 and 5
and accompanying overlays, 22-23 Sep 50; Beauchamp, MS review comments
for author, 19 Jan 54; Ltr, Mount to author, 12 Mar 56.
 7th Div WD, 24 Sep 50.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. B, p. 17, and vol. III, 5th Mar SAR,
an. B, app. 1, pp. 5-6, and an. O, p. 9.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. III, p. 9, 22 Sep 50, and vol. I, an. C, G-3
Sec, p. 17, 22 Sep 50, and an. B, app. 2, p. 8; Geer, The New Breed, pp.
155-57; New York Herald Tribune, September 23, 1950, Bigart dispatch.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, pp. 17-19, 22-23 Sep 50,
and an. B, app. 2, p. 10; Ibid., vol. III, an. B, app. 1, 1st Mar Div
Opn Ord 9-50, 231200 Sep 50, p. 6; X Corps WD, 23 Sep 50; Giusti,
"Marine Air Over Inchon-Seoul," Marine Corps Gazette (June 1952).
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, p. 21, 24 Sep 50; Ibid.,
vol. III, 5th Mar SAR, p. 11, 24 Sep 50; X Corps WD, 24 Sep 50; Montross
and Canzona, The Inchon-Seoul Operation, pp. 245-50; Geer, The New
Breed, pp. 161-62; Giusti, "Marine Air Over Inchon-Seoul," op. cit.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. III, an. B, app. 1, p. 6 and an. P, 5th Mar
SAR, p. 9; Ibid., vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, p. 24, 25 Sep 50; X Corps WD,
G-2 Hist Rpt, PIR 7, 25 Sep 50. Montross and Canzona, The Inchon-Seoul
Operation, pages 239-59, has a detailed account of this battle.
 1st Mar Div Opn Ord 9-50, 231200 and Opn Ord 10-50, 232200 Sep 50.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, p. 21, 24 Sep 50, and an.
B, G-2 Sec, p. 11, 24 Sep 50; 187th RCT Act Rpt, 22 Sep-2 Oct 50.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. II, an. OO, p. 8, Rpt 1st Tk Bn, 25 Sep 50;
Geer, The New Breed, p. 165; Montross and Canzona, The Inchon-Seoul
Operation, pp. 259-61.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, p. 23, 25 Sep 50, and
situation overlay 251800 Sep.
 Most of the responsible Marine officers felt that X Corps hurried
them too much in the Seoul operation. Col John H. Chiles (G-3 X Corps
Sep 50), MS review comments for author, 15 Dec 53: Lt Gen Oliver P.
Smith, MS review comments, 25 Feb 54; Almond, MS review comments for
author, 15 Dec 53; Interv, author with Lt Col Earle W. Williamson (G-3
Sec, X Corps), 28 Aug 51.
 Interv, author with Almond, 13 Dec 51; Smith, MS review comments,
25 Feb 54.
 7th Div WD, 24 Sep 50; Diary of CG X Corps, 24 Sep 50; Hist, Off
CofS, X Corps, 24 Sep 50.
 Interv, author with Almond, 13 Dec 51; Ltr, Beauchamp to author, 15
Jul 53: Diary of CG X Corps, 24 Sep 50; 7th Div WD, 24 Sep 50; 32d Inf
WD, 24 Sep 50. Forney, a Marine officer, was X Corp. Deputy CofS.
 32d Inf WD, 24 Sep 50: 7th Div WD, 24 Sep 50; Diary of CG X Corps,
24 Sep 50; Hist, Off CofS, X Corps, 24 Sep 50.
 7th Div WD, 25 Sep 50; 32d Inf WD, 25 Sep 50.
 32d Inf WD, 25 Sep 50; Diary of CG X Corps, 25 Sep 50.
 32d Inf WD, 25 Sep 50; 7th Div WD, 25 Sep 50; Diary of CG X Corps,
25 Sep 50; Beauchamp, MS review comments for author, 19 Jan 54. Where
time for events differs in the various levels of command records, the
author has followed that of the lower unit, the one closest to the
action, unless other evidence supports another choice.
 32d Inf WD, 26 Sep 50; Ltr, Beauchamp to author, 15 Jul 53.
 Ltr, Beauchamp to author, 15 Jul 53, and MS review comments, 19 Jan
54; 32d Inf WD, 26 Sep 50; 7th Div WD, Narr, 26 Sep 50, and Narr, 7th
Div POR 8, 26 Sep 50. Headquarters, 7th Infantry Division, General Order
69, 13 October 1950, awarded the Silver Star to Lieutenant McCaffrey.
 Hist, Off CofS, X Corps, 25 Sep 50; USAF Hist Study 71, p. 76.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, p. 25, 25 Sep 50.
 Ibid., p. 26, 26 Sep 50.
 Ibid., vol. I, an. C and an. B, app. 2, p. 14, 26 Sep 50: Ibid.,
vol. II, an. PP, p. 9; X Corps WD, 26 Sep 50; Diary of CG X Corps, 26
Sep 50; Geer, The New Breed, pp. 168-70.
 FEC, Inf Order of Battle, N.K. Army, Supp, Gen Hist of N.K. Army
Units, Chart 14 (N.K. 18th Div), 16 Sep 51: ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue
10, p. 78, Rpt 1534, Lt Lee Song Yol.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, pp. 26-28, 26 Sep 50;
Ibid., vol. III, 5th Mar SAR, p. 13, 27 Sep 50; X Corps WD, 26 Sep 50;
Geer, The New Breed, p. 176; New York Herald Tribune, September 27,
1950, Bigart dispatch from Seoul.
 UNC Communiqué 9, 26 Sep 50; GHQ UNC G-3 Opn Rpt, 26 Sep 50; X
Corps WD, 26 Sep 50; New York Times, September 26, 1950, Lawrence
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, p. 29; Ibid., vol. II, 1st Mar Regt
SAR, an. PP, p. 10, 27 Sep 50; X Corps WD, G-3 Sec, Msg J-17, 271145 Sep
50; New York Times, September 28, and Johnston dispatch from Seoul,
September 27, 1950.
 5th Mar Regt SAR in 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. III, an. P, 10-13, 27 Sep
50; 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, p. 30; New York Herald
Tribune, September 28, 1950, Bigart dispatch from Seoul, 27 September.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, p. 19, an. C, G-3 Sec, pp. 30-31; and an.
B, app. 2, p. 16, 28 Sep 50; X Corps WD, G-2 Sec Hist Rpt, PIR 10, 28
 Msg C64159, MacArthur to JCS, 23 Sep 50, CM-IN 14748.
 Diary of CG X Corps, 29 Sep 50; New York Herald Tribune, September
30, 1950; 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, 28-29 Sep 50.
 DA Public Info Div (PID) file, Miscellaneous Public Statements,
Letters, and Documents relating to the Korean War, September 1950; New
York Herald Tribune, September 30, 1950.
 DA PID file, Miscellaneous Public Statements, Letters, and
Documents relating to the Korean War, September 1950.
 31st Inf WD, 23 Sep 50; 7th Div WD, 23 Sep 50; X Corps WD, G-2 Hist
Rpt, PIR 6, 24 Sep 50, Interrog of Maj Lee Ki J'un.
 31st Inf WD, overlay to POR 10, 24 Sep 50; 7th Div WD, 24-25 Sep
 31st Inf WD, 26-28 Sep 50; 7th Div WD, 26-27 Sep 50; X Corps WD, G-
3 Sec, Msg J-52, 2315 27 Sep 50; Interv, author with Barr, 1 Feb 54.
 31st Inf WD, and PIR 9, an. 2, 28 Sep 50; 7th Div WD, 28-29 Sep 50.
General Almond was dissatisfied with Colonel Ovenshine's handling of the
31st Infantry in the action below Suwon and relieved him of command on 5
October. Intervs, author with Almond, 13 Dec 51, and Barr, 1 Feb 54.
 7th Div WD, 29 Sep 50; 17th Inf WD, 28-29 Sep 50; Barr, Notes, 29
Sep 50, and MS review comments, Nov 57 The third regiment of the 7th
Division, the 17th Infantry, arrived at Inch'on on the 24th from Pusan,
where it had been held in floating reserve for Eighth Army, and began
unloading the next day.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, an. C, G-3 Sec, pp. 36-37, 1-2 Oct 50;
Ibid., vol. III, an. RR, p. 24.
 1st Mar Div SAR, an. C, G-3 Sec, p. 38, 3 Oct 50; Interv, author
with Col Harold K. Johnson, 4 Jan 52.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. I, p. 21, and an. B, app. 2, p. 16, 28 Sep,
and p. 24, 5 Oct 50; X Corps WD, 30 Sep 50; 32d Inf WD. 30 Sep 50. The
1st Marine Division captured 4,792 prisoners and claimed to have
inflicted 13,666 enemy casualties. In the 7th Division the 32d Infantry
Regiment captured 1,203 prisoners and intimated it had killed 3,000
enemy troops; the 31st and 17th Infantry Regiments each inflicted
several hundred casualties. Estimates of enemy casualties inflicted by
ROK units are not available.
 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. II, an. OO, p. 42, 7 Oct 50, and an. PP, p.
14; Ibid., vol. I, an. B, app. 2, p. 24, 5 Oct 50; 7th Div WD, 18-30 Sep
 X Corps WD, 30 Sep 50; 7th Div WD, Narr, 30 Sep 50; 32d Inf WD, 30
MS review comments, 25 Feb 54. In a letter to the author, 13 February
1954, General Smith claimed the 1st Marine Division suffered 2,430
battle casualties in the Inch'on-Seoul operation. Montross and Canzona,
The Inchon-Seoul Operation, page 297, gives Marine causalities as 366
KIA, 49 DOW, 6 MIA, and 2,029 WIA, for a total of 2,450. The figure
383 is that given in Marine records cited.
Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation