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Disaster at the Kum River Line

The Foundation of Freedom is the Courage of Ordinary People

History  Bert '53  On Line

Combat Photos

(Back to Appleman: South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu)
Continual exercise makes good soldiers because it qualifies them formilitary duties; by being habituated to pain, they insensibly learn todespise danger. The transition from fatigue to rest enervates them. Theycompare one state with another, and idleness, that predominate passionof mankind, gains ascendancy over them. They then murmur at every triflinginconvenience, and their souls soften in their emasculated bodies.
MAURICE DE SAXE, Reveries on the Art of War

The Kum River is the first large stream south of the Han flowing generallynorth from its source in the mountains of southwestern Korea. Ten mileseast of Taejon, the river in a series of tight loops slants northwest,then bends like an inverted letter U, and 12 miles northwest of the citystarts its final southwesterly course to the sea. For 25 miles upstreamfrom its mouth, the Kum River is a broad estuary of the Yellow Sea, from1 to 2 miles wide. In its semicircle around Taejon, the river constitutesin effect a great moat, much in the same manner as the Naktong River protectsTaegu and Pusan farther south and the Chickahominy River guarded Richmond,Virginia, during the American Civil War.

Protected by this water barrier, generally 10 to 15 miles distant, Taejonlies at the western base of the Sobaek Mountains. To the west, the coastalplain stretches northward to Seoul and southwestward to the tip of Korea.But south and southeastward all the way to the Naktong and on to Pusanlie the broken hills and ridges of the Sobaek Mountains. Through thesemountains in a southeasterly course from Taejon passes the main Seoul-Pusanrailroad and highway. Secondary roads angle off from Taejon into all ofsouthern Korea. Geographical and communication factors gave Taejon unusualmilitary importance.

The Seoul-Pusan railroad crossed the Kum River 8 air miles due northof Taejon. Nine air miles westward and downstream from the railroad, themain highway crossed the river. The little village of Taep'yong-ni stoodthere on the southern bank of the Kum 15 air miles northwest of Taejon.At Kongju, 8 air miles farther westward downstream from Taep'yong-ni and20 air miles northwest of Taejon, another highway crossed the Kum.

Engineers blew the highway bridges across the Kum at Kongju and Taep'yong-niand the railroad bridge at Sinch'on the night and morning of 12-13 July. On the approaches to Taejon, engineer units placed demolitionson all bridges of small streams tributary to the Kum. [1]

Downstream from Kongju the 24th Reconnaissance Company checked all ferriesand destroyed all native flat-bottomed boats it found in a 16-mile stretchbelow the town. Checking below this point for another twenty miles it cameto the south side of the river. In the arc of the river from Kongju eastwardto the railroad crossing, General Menoher, the assistant division commanderof the 24th Division, then ordered all similar boats seized and burned.[2]

General Dean and his 24th Division staff had a fairly clear idea ofthe situation facing them. On 13 July, the division intelligence officerestimated that two enemy divisions at 60 to 80 percent strength with approximatelyfifty tanks were closing on the 24th Division. Enemy prisoners identifiedthem as the 4th Division following the 34th Infantry and the 3dDivision following the 21st Infantry. This indicated a two-prongedattack against Taejon, and perhaps a three-pronged attack if the 2dDivision moving south next in line to the east could drive ROK forcesout of its way in time to join in the effort. [3]

Behind the moat of the Kum River, General Dean placed his 24th Divisiontroops in a horseshoe-shaped arc in front of Taejon. The 34th Infantrywas on the left, the 19th Infantry on the right, and the 21st Infantryin a reserve defensive blocking position southeast of Taejon. On the extremeleft, the 24th Reconnaissance Company in platoon-sized groups watched theprincipal river crossing sites below Kongju. Thus, the division formeda two-regiment front, each regiment having one battalion on the line andthe other in reserve. [4]

The 24th Division was in poor condition for what was certain to be itshardest test yet. In the first week, 1,500 men were missing in action,1,433 of them from the 21st Regiment. That regiment on 13 July had a strengthof about 1,100 men; the 34th Infantry had 2,020 men; and the 19th Infantry,2,276 men. There were 2,007 men in the division artillery. The consolidateddivision strength on strength 14 July was 1,440 men. [5]

Action against the Kum River Line began first on the left (west), inthe sector of the 34th Infantry.

From Seoul south the N.K. 4th Division had borne the brunt ofthe fighting against the 24th Division and was now down to 5,000-6,000men, little more than half strength. Approximately 20 T34 tanks led thedivision column, which included 40 to 50 pieces of artillery. Just beforemidnight of 11 July the 16th Regiment sent out scouts to make areconnaissance of the Kum, learn the depth and width of the river, andreport back before 1000 the next morning. An outpost of the 34th InfantryI&R Platoon during the night captured one of the scouts, an officer, 600 yards northof the river opposite Kongju. The regiment's mission was the capture ofKongju. [6]

U.N. air attacks on North Korean armor, transport, and foot columnshad become by now sufficiently effective so that the enemy no longer placedhis tanks, trucks, and long columns of marching men on the main roads inbroad daylight. The heavy losses of armor and equipment to air attack inthe vicinity of P'yongt'aek, Chonui, and Ch'onan in the period of 7 to10 July had wrought the change. Now, in approaching the Kum, the enemygenerally remained quiet and camouflaged in orchards and buildings duringthe daytime and moved at night. The North Koreans also used back roadsand trails more than in the first two weeks of the invasion, and alreadyby day were storing equipment and supplies in railroad tunnels. [7]

The N.K. 4th Division Crosses the Kum Below Kongju

On the high ground around Kongju, astride the Kongju-Nonsan road, the3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, was in its defensive positions. On line fromleft to right were L, I, and K Companies, with the mortars of M Companybehind them. The 63d Field Artillery Battalion was about two and a halfmiles south of the Kum in their support. Three miles farther south, the1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, was in an assembly area astride the road.[8] (Map 6)

Communication between the 3d Battalion units was practically nonexistent.For instance, L Company could communicate with only one of its squads,and it served as a lookout and was equipped with a sound power telephone.The L Company commander, 1st Lt. Archie L. Stith, tried but failed at the3d Battalion headquarters to obtain a radio that would work. He had communicationwith the battalion only by messenger. Procurement of live batteries forSignal Corps radios SCR-300's and 536's was almost impossible, communicationwire could not be obtained, and that already laid could not be reclaimed.[9]

At 0400 hours 13 July, D Company of the 3d Engineer Combat Battalionblew the steel truss bridge in front of Kongju. A few hours after daybreakan enemy squad walked to the water's edge, 700 yards from a 34th Infantryposition across the river, and set up a machine gun. On high ground northof this enemy machine gun squad, a North Korean tank came into view. [10]The men of the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, now had only the water barrierof the Kum between them and the enemy. That after noon, the North Koreans began shelling Kongju from across the river.

Map 6
Moving South across the Kum

The command situation for Colonel Wadlington continued to worsen asboth the regimental S-2 and S-3 were evacuated because of combat fatigue.Then, that night, K Company, a composite group of about forty men of the3d Battalion in such mental and physical condition as to render them liabilitiesin combat, was withdrawn from the Kum River Line with division approvaland taken to Taejon for medical disposition. [11]

There were now only two understrength rifle companies of the 34th Infantryin front of Kongju-L Company on the left and I Company on the right ofthe road on the river hills, with some mortars of the Heavy Weapons Companybehind. These troops knew of no friendly units on their left (west). Fromthe 19th Infantry on their right, Capt. Melicio Montesclaros had visitedthe I Company position and told the men there was a 2-mile gap betweenthat flank and his outpost position eastward on the regimental boundary.

Shortly after daybreak of the 14th, American troops on the south sideof the Kum at Kongju heard enemy tanks in the village across the river.By 0600, enemy flat trajectory weapons, possibly tank guns, were firinginto I Company's area. Their target apparently was the mortars back ofthe rifle company. Simultaneously, enemy shells exploded in air burstsover L Company's position but were too high to do any damage. Soon thereafter,L Company lookouts sent word that enemy soldiers were crossing the river in two barges, each carrying approximately thirty men, abouttwo miles below them. They estimated that about 500 North Koreans crossedbetween 0800 and 0930.

The weather was clear after a night of rain. The 63d Field ArtilleryBattalion sent aloft a liaison plane for aerial observation. This aerialobserver reported by radio during the morning that two small boats carryingmen were crossing the Kum to the south side and gave the map co-ordinatesof the crossing site. Apparently this was part of the same enemy crossingseen by L Company men. The battalion S-3, Maj. Charles T. Barter, decidednot to fire on the boats but to wait for larger targets. One platoon ofthe 155-mm. howitzers of A Battery, 11th Field Artillery Battalion, inposition east of Kongju fired briefly on the enemy troops. But Yak fighterplanes soon drove away the liaison observation planes, and artillery fireceased. [12]

Soon after the enemy crossed the river below L Company, Lieutenant Stith,the company commander, unable to find the machine gun and mortar sectionssupporting the company and with his company coming under increasingly accurateenemy mortar and artillery fire, decided that his position was untenable.He ordered L Company to withdraw. The men left their positions overlookingthe Kum shortly before 1100. When Sgt. Wallace A. Wagnebreth, a platoonleader of L Company, reached the positions of the 63d Field Artillery Battalion,he told an unidentified artillery officer of the enemy crossing, but, accordingto him, the officer paid little attention. Lieutenant Stith, after orderingthe withdrawal, went in search of the 3d Battalion headquarters. He finallyfound it near Nonsan. Learning what had happened, the battalion commanderrelieved Stith of his command and threatened him with court martial. [13]

The 63d Field Artillery Battalion Overrun

Three miles south of the river, the 63d Field Artillery Battalion hademplaced its 105-mm. howitzers along a secondary road near the villageof Samyo. The road at this point was bordered on either side by scrub-pine-coveredhills. From north to south the battery positions were A, Headquarters,B, and Service. The artillery battalion had communication on the morningof the 14th with the 34th Regimental headquarters near Nonsan but nonewith the infantry units or the artillery forward observers with them onthe Kum River Line. The day before, the commanding officer of the 63d FieldArtillery Battalion, Lt. Col. Robert H. Dawson, had been evacuated to Taejonbecause of illness, and Maj. William E. Dressler assumed command of thebattalion.

About 1330 an outpost of the artillery battalion reported enemy troopscoming up the hill toward them. It received instructions not to fire unlessfired upon as the men might be friendly forces. As a result, this group of enemy soldiers overran the machine gun outpostand turned the captured gun on Headquarters Battery. [14] Thus began theattack of the North Korean 16th Regiment on the 63d Field ArtilleryBattalion. Enemy reconnaissance obviously had located the support artilleryand had bypassed the river line rifle companies to strike at it and theline of communications running to the rear.

Kum river bridge explosion

Now came enemy mortar fire. The first shell hit Headquarters Batteryswitchboard and destroyed telephone communication to the other batteries.In rapid succession mortar shells hit among personnel of the medical section,on the command post, and then on the radio truck. With the loss of theradio truck all means of electrical communication vanished. An ammunitiontruck was also hit, and exploding shells in it caused further confusionin Headquarters Battery. [15]

Almost simultaneously with the attack on Headquarters Battery came anotherdirected against A Battery, about 250 yards northward. This second forceof about a hundred enemy soldiers started running down a hill from thewest toward an A Battery outpost "squealing like a bunch of Indians,"according to one observer. Some of the artillerymen opened up on them withsmall arms fire and they retreated back up the hill. Soon, however, thissame group of soldiers came down another slope to the road and broughtA Battery under fire

at 150 yards' range. Mortar fire began to fall on A Battery's position.This fire caused most of the artillerymen to leave their gun positions.Some of them, however, fought courageously; Cpl. Lawrence A. Ray was oneof these. Although wounded twice, he continued to operate a BAR and, witha few others, succeeded in holding back enemy soldiers while most of themen in the battery sought to escape. Soon a mortar burst wounded Ray andmomentarily knocked him unconscious. Regaining consciousness, he crawledinto a ditch where he found fifteen other artillerymen-not one of themcarrying a weapon. All of this group escaped south. On the way out theyfound the body of their battery commander, Capt. Lundel M. Southerland.[16]

Back at Headquarters Battery, enemy machine guns put bands of fire acrossboth the front and the back doors of the building which held the Fire DirectionCenter. The men caught inside escaped to a dugout, crawled up a ravine,and made their way south toward Service Battery. In the excitement of themoment, apparently no one saw Major Dressler. More than two and a halfyears later his remains and those of Cpl. Edward L. McCall were found togetherin a common foxhole at the site. [17]

After overrunning A and Headquarters Batteries, the North Koreans turnedon B Battery. An enemy force estimated at 400 men had it under attack by1415. They worked to the rear of the battery, set up machine guns, andfired into it. The battery commander, Capt. Anthony F. Stahelski, orderedhis two machine guns on the enemy side of his defense perimeter to returnthe fire. Then enemy mortar shells started falling and hit two 105-mm.howitzers, a radio jeep, and a 2 1/2-ton prime mover. A group of SouthKorean cavalry rode past the battery and attacked west toward the enemy,but the confusion was so great that no one in the artillery position seemedto know what happened as a result of this intervention. The North Koreanskept B Battery under fire. At 1500 Captain Stahelski gave the battery marchorder but the men could not get the artillery pieces onto the road whichwas under fire. The men escaped as best they could. [18]

An hour and a half after the first enemy appeared at the artillery positionthe entire 63d Field Artillery Battalion, with the exception of ServiceBattery, had been overrun, losing 10 105-mm. howitzers with their ammunitionand from 60 to 80 vehicles. The 5 guns of A Battery fell to the enemy intact.In B Battery, enemy mortar fire destroyed 2 howitzers; artillerymen removedthe sights and firing locks from the other 3 before abandoning them.

Meanwhile, Service Battery had received word of the enemy attack andprepared to withdraw at once. A few men from the overrun batteries gotback to it and rode its trucks fifteen miles south to Nonsan. Stragglersfrom the overrun artillery battalion came in to the Nonsan area during the night and next morning. Eleven officers and125 enlisted men of the battalion were missing in action. [19]

It is clear from an order he issued that morning that General Dean didnot expect to hold Kongju indefinitely, but he did hope for a series ofdelaying actions that would prevent the North Koreans from accomplishingan early crossing of the Kum River at Kongju, a quick exploitation of abridgehead, and an immediate drive on Taejon. [20]

Pursuant to General Dean's orders, Colonel Wadlington, the acting regimentalcommander, left his headquarters at Ponggong-ni on the main road runningsouth out of Kongju the morning of the 14th to reconnoiter the Nonsan areain anticipation of a possible withdrawal. He was absent from his headquartersuntil midafternoon. [21] Shortly after his return to the command post,between 1500 and 1600, he learned from an escaped enlisted man who hadreached his headquarters that an enemy force had attacked and destroyedthe 63d Field Artillery Battalion. Wadlington at once ordered Lt. Col.Harold B. Ayres to launch an attack with the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry,to rescue the men and equipment in the artillery area and drive the NorthKoreans westward. According to Ayres, Wadlington's order brought him hisfirst word of the enemy attack. [22]

The 1st Battalion a little after 1700 moved out northward in a columnof companies in attack formation. The three-mile movement northward waswithout incident until C Company approached within a hundred yards of theoverrun artillery position. Then, a few short bursts of enemy machine gunand some carbine fire halted the company. Dusk was at hand. Since his orderswere to withdraw if he had not accomplished his mission by dark, ColonelAyres ordered his battalion to turn back. At its former position, the 1stBattalion loaded into trucks and drove south toward Nonsan. [23]

As soon as the 24th Division received confirmation of the bad news aboutthe 63d Field Artillery Battalion it ordered an air strike for the nextmorning, 15 July, on the lost equipment-a practice that became standardprocedure for destroying heavy American equipment lost or abandoned toenemy in enemy-held territory. [24]

During the day I Company, 34th Infantry, had stayed in its position on the river line. Enemy mortar firehad fallen in its vicinity until noon. In the early afternoon, artilleryfrom across the river continued the shelling. The acting commander, Lt.Joseph E. Hicks, tried but failed to locate L Company and the 3d BattalionHeadquarters. A few men from the Heavy Weapons Company told him that enemyroadblocks were in his rear and that he was cut off. Except for the enemyshelling, all was quiet in I Company during the day. That night at 2130,pursuant to orders he received, Hicks led I Company over the mountainseast and southeast of Kongju and rejoined the regiment. The 34th Infantryoccupied new positions just east of Nonsan early in the morning of 15 July.[25]

In their first day of attack against it, the North Koreans had widelybreached the Kum River Line. Not only was the line breached, but the 19thInfantry's left flank was now completely exposed. The events of 14 Julymust have made it clear to General Dean that he could not long hold Taejon.

Nevertheless, Dean tried to bolster the morale of the defeated units.After he had received reports of the disaster, he sent a message at 1640in the afternoon saying, "Hold everything we have until we find wherewe stand-might not be too bad-may be able to hold-make reconnaissance-maybe able to knock those people out and reconsolidate. Am on my way out therenow." [26] Informing Colonel Stephens that the 34th Infantry was introuble, he ordered him to put the 21st Infantry Regiment in position onselected ground east of Taejon. Something of Dean's future intentions onoperations at Taejon was reflected in his comment, "We must coordinateso that the 19th and 34th come out together." General Dean closedhis message by asking Stephens to come to his command post that night fora discussion of plans. [27]

Although an aerial observer saw two tanks on the south side of the KumRiver southwest of Kongju early in the morning of the 15th, enemy armordid not cross in force that day. Other parts of the 4th Division continuedto cross, however, in the Kongju area. Air strikes destroyed some of theirboats and strafed their soldiers. By nightfall of 15 July some small groupsof North Korean soldiers had pressed south from the river and were in Nonsan.[28]

The N.K. 3d Division Crosses the Kum Against the 19th Infantry

The third and last regiment of the 24th Division, the 19th Infantry,commanded by Col. Guy S. Meloy, Jr., began to arrive in Korea on 4 July.Nearly ninety years earlier the 19th Infantry Regiment had won the sobriquet,"The Rock of Chickamauga," in a memorable stand in one of thebloodiest of Civil War battles. Now, on 11 and 12 July General Dean movedthe 1950 version of the regiment to Taejon as he concentrated the 24thDivision there for the defense of the city. Before dark of the 12th, the 19th Infantry was in position to relieve the 21st InfantryRegiment on the south bank of the Kum, but the formal relief and transferof responsibility for the regimental sector did not take place until 0930the next day. Fourteen years earlier General Dean had served as captainin the regiment in Hawaii. [29]

The 19th Infantry's zone of responsibility was a wide one, extendingfrom high ground just east of the railroad bridge, 8 miles due north ofTaejon, westward along the river to within 3 miles of Kongju. This wasan airline distance of 15 miles or a river distance of almost 30 milesbecause of the stream's numerous deep folds. Necessarily, there were widegaps between some of the units in disposing a regiment-a 2-battalion regimentat that-over this distance. The main regimental position was astride theSeoul-Pusan highway where it crossed the Kum River at Taep'yong-ni, aboutmidway of the regimental sector. (Map 7)

Engineer demolition troops had blown, but only partially destroyed,the highway bridge over the Kum at 2100, 12 July. The next morning theydynamited it again, and this time two spans dropped into the water. Onthe 15th, engineers destroyed the railroad bridge upstream at Sinch'on.[30]

At Taep'yong-ni the Kum River in mid-July 1950 was 200 to 300 yardswide, its banks 4 to 8 feet high, water 6 to 15 feet deep, and current3 to 6 miles an hour. Sandbars ran out into the streambed at almost everybend and the channel shifted back and forth from the center to the sides.The river, now swollen by rains, could be waded at many points when itswaters fell.

19th Regiment BAR man at Dike Position near Taep'yong-ni
19th Regiment BAR man at Dike Position near Taep'yong-ni

On the regimental right, the railroad bridge lay just within the ROKArmy zone of responsibility. A mile and a half west of the railroad bridgea large tributary, the Kap-ch'on, empties into the Kum. On high groundwest of the railroad and the mouth of the Kap-ch'on, E Company in platoon-sizedunits held defensive positions commanding the Kum River railroad crossingsite. West of E Company there was an entirely undefended 2-mile gap. Beyondthis gap C Company occupied three northern fingers of strategically locatedHill 200 three miles east of Taep'yong-ni. [31] Downstream from C Companythere was a 1,000-yard gap to where A Company's position began behind abig dike along the bank of the Kum. The A Company sector extended westwardbeyond the Seoul-Pusan highway at Taep'yong-ni. One platoon of A Companywas on 500-foot high hills a mile south of the Taep'yong-ni dike and paddyground.

West of the highway, the 1st Platoon of B Company joined A Company behindthe dike, while the rest of the company was on high ground which came downclose to the river. West of B Company for a distance of five air milesto the regimental boundary there was little protection. One platoon ofG Company manned an outpost two miles away. The I&R Platoon of aboutseventy men, together with a platoon of engineers and a battery of artillery,all under the command of Capt. Melicio Montesclaros, covered the last three miles ofthe regimental sector in the direction of Kongju.

The command post of Lt. Col. Otho T. Winstead, commander of the 1stBattalion, was at the village of Kadong, about a mile south of the Kumon the main highway. Colonel Meloy's regimental command post was at thevillage of Palsan, about a mile farther to the rear on the highway. [32]

The 2d Battalion with two of its rifle companies was in reserve backof the 1st Battalion. Behind A Company, east of the highway, were two platoonsof G Company; behind B Company, west of the highway, was F Company. The4.2-inch mortars of the Heavy Mortar Company were east of the highway.

Artillery supporting the 19th Infantry consisted of A and B Batteries,52d Field Artillery Battalion; A and B Batteries of the 11th Field ArtilleryBattalion (155-mm. howitzers); and two batteries of the 13th Field ArtilleryBattalion. Lt. Col. Charles W. Stratton, commanding officer of the 13thField Artillery Battalion, coordinated their firing. The 52d Field ArtilleryBattalion, in position along the main highway at the village of Tuman-ni,about three miles south of the Kum, was farthest forward. Behind it two miles farther south were the 11th and the 13th Field Artillery Battalions.[33]

The larger parts of the 26th Antiaircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons)Battalion and of A Company, 78th Heavy Tank Battalion (light M24 tanks),were at Taejon.

Aerial strikes on the 14th failed to prevent the build-up of enemy armoron the north side of the Kum opposite Taep'yong-ni. Tanks moved up anddug in on the north bank for direct fire support of a crossing effort.Their fire started falling on the south bank of the Kum in the 19th Infantry'szone at 1300, 14 July. Late in the day an aerial observer reported seeingeleven enemy tanks dug in, camouflaged, and firing as artillery. Therewere some minor attempted enemy crossings during the day but no major effort.None succeeded. [34]

The afternoon brought the bad news concerning the left flank-the collapseof the 34th Infantry at Kongju.

The next morning, at 0700, Colonel Meloy received word from his extremeleft flank that North Koreans were starting to cross there. An aerial strikeand the I&R Platoon's machine gun fire repelled this crossing attempt.But soon thereafter enemy troops that had crossed lower down in the 34thInfantry sector briefly engaged the Reconnaissance Platoon when it triedto establish contact with the 34th Infantry. [35]

These events on his exposed left flank caused Colonel Meloy to reinforcethe small force there with the remainder of G Company, 1 machine gun platoonand a section of 81-mm. mortars from H Company, 2 light tanks, and 2 quad-50'sof the 26th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion-in all, two thirds of hisreserve. Lt. Col. Thomas M. McGrail, commanding officer of the 2d Battalion,accompanied these troops to the left flank. Meloy now had only F Companyin reserve behind the 1st Battalion in the main battle position. [36]

The morning of 15 July, Colonel Stephens at 0600 started his 21st InfantryRegiment from the Taejon airstrip for Okch'on, ten miles east of the cityon the main Seoul-Pusan highway. This organization was now only a shadowof a regiment. Its 1st Battalion had a strength of 517 men. The 132 menof the 3d Battalion were organized into K and M Companies and attachedto the 1st Battalion. A separate provisional group numbered 466 men. Asalready noted, the regiment so organized numbered little more than 1,100men of all ranks. [37]

General Dean had ordered the move to the Okch'on position. He fearedthere might be a North Korean penetration through ROK Army forces eastof Taejon, and he wanted the 21st Infantry deployed on the high hills astridethe highway in that vicinity to protect the rear of the 24th Division. Theregiment went into position five miles east of Taejon, beyond the railroadand highway tunnels, with the command post in Okch'on. From its new positionthe 21st Infantry also controlled a road running south from a Kum Riverferry site to the highway. One battery of the 11th Field Artillery Battalionaccompanied the 21st Infantry. A company of attached engineer troops preparedthe tunnels and bridges east of Taejon for demolition. [38]

As evening of 15 July approached, Colonel Meloy alerted all units inbattle positions for an enemy night crossing. Supporting mortars and artilleryfired on the enemy-held villages across the river. This and air strikesduring the evening set the flimsy Korean wood-adobe-straw huts on fireand illuminated the river front with a reddish glow.

Enemy sources indicate that all day the N.K. 3d Division hadmade preparations for an attack on the river line, and that repeated airattacks seriously hampered the movement of its heavy equipment and instilledfear in the minds of its soldiers. Political officers tried to raise thelowering morale of the troops by promising them a long rest after the captureof Taejon and by saying that when the city fell the Americans would surrender.[39]

Just before dusk, 2d Lt. Charles C. Early, platoon leader of the 3dPlatoon, B Company, from his position above the Kum, saw an enemy T34 tankcome around a bend in the highway across the river. While he telephonedthis information to his company commander, he counted eight more tanksmaking the turn in the road. He could see them distinctly with the nakedeye at a distance of about two miles. Three of the tanks pulled off theroad, swung their turrets, and fired on Early's position. Most of theirrounds passed overhead. Enemy artillery began firing at the same time.The 1st Battalion had called for an air strike when the enemy tanks openedfire, and now two planes appeared. When the planes arrived over the riverall the tanks except one took cover in a wooded area. The strike left theexposed tank burning on the road. The two planes stayed over the area untildark. Upon their departure, enemy infantry in trucks moved to the river'sedge. [40]

Small groups of enemy soldiers tested the American river defenses bywading into the river; others rushed out to the end of the blown bridge,jumped into the water, and began swimming across. Recoilless rifle andmachine gun fire of the Heavy Weapons Company inflicted heavy casualtieson this crossing attempt at and near the bridge, but some of the NorthKoreans got across under cover of tank fire.

Upstream in front of Hill 200 another enemy crossing attempt was underway in front of C Company. The combined fire from all company weapons supportedby that from part of the Heavy Weapons Company repelled this attack andtwo more that followed after short intervals.

Some rounds falling short from friendly 81-mm. mortars knocked out twoof the company's 60-mm. mortars and broke the base plate of the remainingone. Corporal Tabor improvised a base plate and, holding the tube in hishand, fired an estimated 300 rounds. With his first river crossing attacksrepulsed, the enemy made ready his major effort. At 0300 Sunday, 16 July,an enemy plane flew over the Kum and dropped a flare. It was the signalfor a co-ordinated attack. The intensity of the fire that now came fromenemy guns on the north bank of the river was as great, General Meloy hassaid, as anything he experienced in Europe in World War II. Under coverof this intense fire the North Koreans used boats and rafts, or waded andswam, and in every possible way tried to cross the river. American artillery,mortar, and supporting weapons fire met this attack. [41] Representativeof the accidents that weigh heavily in the outcome of most battles wasone that now occurred. One of the 155-mm. howitzers of the 11th Field ArtilleryBattalion had been as signed to fire flares over the river position oncall. At the most critical time of the enemy crossing, the 1st Battalionthrough the regiment requested a slight shift of the flare area. Normallythis would have taken only a few minutes to execute. But the artillerypersonnel misunderstood the request and laid the howitzer on an azimuththat required moving the trails of the piece. As a result of this mishapthere were no flares for a considerable period of time. Colonel Winstead,the 1st Battalion commander, said that mishap and the resulting lack offlares hurt his men more than anything else in their losing the south bankof the river. [42]

Enemy troops succeeded in crossing the river at 0400 in front of thegap between C and E Companies on the regimental right and struck the 1stPlatoon of C Company for the fourth time that night. In the midst of thisattack, Lt. Henry T. McGill called Lt. Thomas A. Maher, the 1st Platoonleader, to learn how things were going. Maher answered, "We're doingfine." Thirty seconds later he was dead with a burp gun bullet inhis head. North Koreans in this fourth assault succeeded in overrunningthe platoon position. The platoon sergeant brought out only about a dozenmen. C Company consolidated its remaining strength on the middle fingerof Hill 200 and held fast. But the North Koreans now had a covered routearound the east end of the 1st Battalion position. They exploited it inthe next few hours by extensive infiltration to the rear and in attackson the heavy mortar position and various observation and command posts.[43]

Simultaneously with this crossing at the right of the main regimentalposition, another was taking place below and on the left flank of the mainbattle position. This one lasted longer and apparently was the largestof all. At daybreak, men in B Company saw an estimated 300 to 400 North Korean soldiers onhigh ground southwest of them-already safely across the river. And theysaw that crossings were still in progress downstream at a ferry site. Enemysoldiers, 25 to 30 at a time, were wading into the river holding theirweapons and supplies on their heads, and plunging into neck-deep water.[44]

From his observation post, Colonel Meloy could see the crossing areato the left but few details of the enemy movement. Already B Company hadcalled in artillery fire on the enemy crossing force and Colonel Meloydid likewise through his artillery liaison officer. Capt. Monroe Andersonof B Company noticed that while some of the enemy moved on south aftercrossing the river, most of them remained in the hills camouflaged as shrubsand small trees. Lieutenant Early, fearing an attack on his rear by thiscrossing force, left his 3d Platoon and moved back to a better observationpoint. There for an hour he watched enemy soldiers bypass B Company, movingsouth. [45]

By this time it seemed that the North Koreans were crossing everywherein front of the regiment. As early as 0630 Colonel Winstead had reportedto the regiment that his command post and the Heavy Mortar Company wereunder attack and that the center of his battalion was falling back. Theenemy troops making this attack had crossed the river by the partly destroyedbridge and by swimming and wading. They made deep penetrations and about0800 overran part of the positions of A Company and the right hand platoonof B Company behind the dike. They then continued on south across the flatpaddies and seized the high ground at Kadong-ni. Lt. John A. English, WeaponsPlatoon leader with B Company, seeing what had happened to the one platoonof B Company along the dike, ran down from his hill position, flipped offhis helmet, swam the small stream that empties into the Kum at this point,and led out fourteen survivors. [46]

This enemy penetration through the center of the regimental positionto the 1st Battalion command post had to be thrown back if the 19th Infantrywas to hold its position. Colonel Meloy and Colonel Winstead immediatelyset about organizing a counterattack force from the 1st Battalion Headquartersand the Regimental Headquarters Companies, consisting of all officers present,cooks, drivers, mechanics, clerks, and the security platoon. Colonel Meloybrought up a tank and a quad-50 antiaircraft artillery half-track to helpin the counterattack. This counterattack farce engaged the North Koreansand drove them from the high ground at Kadong-ni by 0900. Some of the enemyran to the river and crossed back to the north side. In leading this attack,Maj. John M. Cook, the 1st Battalion Executive Officer, and Capt. AlanHackett, the Battalion S-1, lost their lives. [47]

Colonel Meloy reported to General Dean that he had thrown back the North Koreans, that he thought the situation was under control, and that hecould hold on until dark as he, General Dean, had requested. It was understoodthat after dark the 19th Infantry would fall back from the river to a delayingposition closer to Taejon. [48]

Roadblock Behind the 19th Infantry

But events were not in reality as favorable as they had appeared toColonel Meloy when he made his report to General Dean. Colonel Winstead,the 1st Battalion commander, soon reported to Colonel Meloy that whilehe thought he could hold the river line to his front he had no forces todeal with the enemy in his rear. Fire from infiltrated enemy troops behindthe main line was falling on many points of the battalion position andon the main supply road. Then came word that an enemy force had establisheda roadblock three miles to the rear on the main highway. Stopped by enemyfire while on his way forward with a resupply of ammunition for the 1stBattalion, 2d Lt. Robert E. Nash telephoned the news to Colonel Meloy whoordered him to go back, find Colonel McGrail, 2d Battalion commander, andinstruct him to bring up G and H Companies to break the roadblock. Almostsimultaneously with this news Colonel Meloy received word from ColonelStratton that he was engaged with the enemy at the artillery positions.[49]

All morning the hard-pressed men of the 19th Infantry had wondered whathad happened to their air support. When the last two planes left the KumRiver at dark the night before they had promised that air support wouldbe on hand the next morning at first light. Thus far only six planes, hoursafter daylight, had made their appearance over the front. Now the regimentsent back an urgent call for an air strike on the enemy roadblock force.

Scattered, spasmodic firing was still going on in the center when ColonelMeloy and his S-3, Maj. Edward O. Logan, left the regimental command postabout an hour before noon to check the situation at the roadblock and toselect a delaying position farther back. Before leaving the Kum River,Meloy gave instructions to Colonel Winstead concerning withdrawal of thetroops after dark. [50]

The enemy soldiers who established the roadblock behind the regimenthad crossed the Kum below B Company west of the highway. They bypassedB and F Companies, the latter the regiment's reserve force. Only enoughenemy soldiers to pin it down turned off and engaged F Company. Duringthe morning many reports had come into the regimental command post fromF Company that enemy troops were moving south past its position. Once pastF Company, the enemy flanking force turned east toward the highway. [51]

About 1000, Colonel Perry, commanding officer of the 52d Field ArtilleryBattalion, from his command post near Tuman-ni three miles south of theKum River, saw a long string of enemy soldiers in white clothing pass overa mountain ridge two miles westward and disappear southward over another ridge.He ordered A Battery to place fire on this column, and informed the 13thField Artillery Battalion below him that an enemy force was approachingit. A part of this enemy force, wearing regulation North Korean uniforms,turned off toward the 52d Field Artillery Battalion and headed for B Battery

Men in B Battery hastily turned two or three of their howitzers aroundand delivered direct fire at the North Koreans. The North Koreans set upmortars and fired into B Battery position. One of their first rounds killedthe battery commander and his first sergeant. Other rounds wounded fiveof the six chiefs of sections. The battery executive, 1st Lt. William H.Steele, immediately assumed command and organized a determined defenseof the position. Meanwhile, Colonel Perry at his command post just southof B Battery assembled a small attack force of wire, medical, and firedirection personnel not on duty, and some 19th Infantry soldiers who werein his vicinity. He led this group out against the flank of the North Koreans,directing artillery fire by radio as he closed with them. The combinedfire from B Battery, Colonel Perry's group, and the directed artilleryfire repelled this enemy attack. The North Koreans turned and went southwardinto the hills. [52]

Before noon the enemy force again turned east to the highway about 800yards south of the 52d Field Artillery position. There it opened fire onand halted some jeeps with trailers going south for ammunition resupply.Other vehicles piled up behind the jeeps. This was the beginning of theroadblock, and this was when Colonel Meloy received the telephone messageabout it. South of the roadblock the 11th and 13th Field Artillery Battalionscame under long range, ineffective small arms fire. The artillery continuedfiring on the Kum River crossing areas, even though the 13th Field ArtilleryBattalion Fire Direction Center, co-ordinating the firing, had lost allcommunication about 1100 with its forward observers and liaison officersat the infantry positions. [53]

The North Korean roadblock, a short distance below the village of Tumanwhere the highway made a sharp bend going south, closed the only exit fromthe main battle position of the 19th Infantry. At this point a narrow passwas formed by a steep 40-foot embankment which dropped off on the westside of the road to a small stream, the Yongsu River, and a steep hillsidethat came down to the road on the other side. There was no space for avehicular bypass on either side of the road. South of this point for approximatelyfour miles high hills approached and flanked the highway on the west. Asthe day wore on, the enemy built up his roadblock force and extended itsouthward into these hills.

When Colonel Meloy and Major Logan arrived at the roadblock they foundconditions unsatisfactory. Small groups of soldiers, entirely disorganized and apathetic, were returning somefire in the general direction of the unseen enemy. While trying to organizea group to attack the enemy on the high ground overlooking the road ColonelMeloy was wounded. He now gave to Colonel Winstead command of all troopsalong the Kum River.

Major Logan established communication with General Dean about 1300.He told him that Meloy had been wounded, that Winstead was in command,and that the regimental situation was bad. Dean replied that he was assemblinga force to try to break the roadblock but that probably it would be about1530 before it could arrive at the scene. He ordered the regiment to withdrawat once, getting its personnel and equipment out to the greatest possibleextent. Soon after this conversation, enemy fire struck and destroyed theregimental radio truck, and there was no further communication with thedivision. Colonel Winstead ordered Major Logan to try to reduce the roadblockand get someone through to establish contact with the relief force expectedfrom the south. Winstead then started back to his 1st Battalion along theriver. Shortly after 1330 he ordered it to withdraw. In returning to theKum, Winstead went to his death. [54]

During the previous night the weather had cleared from overcast to brightstarlight, and now, as the sun climbed past its zenith, the temperaturereached 100 degrees. Only foot soldiers who have labored up the steep Koreanslopes in midsummer can know how quickly exhaustion overcomes the bodyunless it is inured to such conditions by training and experience. As thiswas the initial experience of the 19th Infantry in Korean combat the menlacked the physical stamina demanded by the harsh terrain and the humid,furnace-like weather. And for three days and nights past they had had littlerest. This torrid midsummer Korean day, growing light at 0500 and stayinglight until 2100, seemed to these weary men an unending day of battle.

When the 1st Battalion began to withdraw, some of the units were stillin their original positions, while others were in secondary positions towhich enemy action had driven them. In the withdrawal from Hill 200 onthe battalion right, officers of C Company had trouble in getting the mento leave their foxholes. Incoming mortar fire pinned them down. Cpl. JackArawaka, a machine gunner, at this time had his gun blow up in his face.Deafened, nearly blind, and otherwise wounded from the explosion, he pickedup a BAR and continued fighting. Arawaka did not follow the company offthe hill.

As 2d Lt. Augustus B. Orr led a part of the company along the base ofthe hill toward the highway he came upon a number of North Korean soldierslying in rice paddy ditches and partly covered with water. They appearedto be dead. Suddenly, Orr saw one of them who was clutching a grenade sendair bubbles into the water and open his eyes. Orr shot him at once. He and his men now discovered that the other North Koreanswere only feigning death and they killed them on the spot. [55]

When C Company reached the highway they saw the last of A and B Companiesdisappearing south along it. Enemy troops were starting forward from thevicinity of the bridge. But when they saw C Company approaching from theirflank, they ran back. Upon reaching the highway, C Company turned southon it but soon came under enemy fire from the hill east of Palsan-ni. Anestimated six enemy machine guns fired on the company and scattered it.Individuals and small groups from the company made their way south as bestthey could. Some of those who escaped saw wounded men lying in the roadsideditches with medical aid men heroically staying behind administering totheir needs. On the west side of the highway, F Company was still in positioncovering the withdrawal of B Company. At the time of the withdrawal ofthe 1st Battalion, F Company was under fire from its left front, left flank,and the left rear. [56]

As elements of the withdrawing 1st Battalion came up to the roadblock,officers attempted to organize attacks against the enemy automatic weaponsfiring from the high ground a few hundred yards to the west. One such forcehad started climbing toward the enemy positions when a flight of four friendlyF-51's came in and attacked the hill. This disrupted their efforts completelyand caused the men to drop back off the slope in a disorganized condition.Other attempts were made to organize parties from drivers, mechanics, artillerymen,and miscellaneous personnel to go up the hill-all to no avail. Two lighttanks at the roadblock fired in the general direction of the enemy. Butsince the North Koreans used smokeless powder ammunition, the tankers couldnot locate the enemy guns and their fire was ineffective. Lt. Lloyd D.Smith, platoon leader of the 81-mm. mortar platoon, D Company, was oneof the officers Major Logan ordered to attack and destroy the enemy machineguns. He and another platoon leader, with about fifty men, started climbingtoward the high ground. After going several hundred feet, Smith found thatonly one man was still with him. They both returned to the highway. Mencrowded the roadside ditches seeking protection from the enemy fire directedat the vehicles. [57]

Several times men pushed vehicles blocking the road out of the way,but each time traffic started to move enemy machine guns opened up causingmore driver casualties and creating the vehicle block all over again. Strafingby fighter planes seemed unable to reduce this enemy automatic fire ofthree or four machine guns. Ordered to attack south against the enemy roadblockforce, F Company, still in its original reserve position, was unable todo so, being virtually surrounded and under heavy attack.

About 1430, Major Logan placed Capt. Edgar R. Fenstermacher, AssistantS-3, in command at the roadblock, and taking twenty men he circled eastwardand then southward trying to determine the extent of the roadblock and to find a bypass. Approximately twohours later, he and his group walked into the positions of the 13th FieldArtillery Battalion which had started to displace southward. A few minuteslater Logan met General Dean. With the general were two light tanks andfour antiaircraft artillery vehicles, two of them mounting quad .50-calibermachine guns and the other two mounting dual 40-mm. guns. [58]

In carrying out Meloy's instructions and going back down the road tofind Colonel McGrail and bring G and H Companies to break the roadblock,Nash ran a gantlet of enemy fire. His jeep was wrecked by enemy fire, buthe escaped on foot to the 13th Field Artillery Battalion position. Therehe borrowed a jeep and drove to McGrail's command post at Sangwang-ni onthe regimental extreme left flank near Kongju. After delivering Meloy'sorders, Nash drove back to Taejon airstrip to find trucks to transportthe troops. It took personal intercession and an order from the assistantdivision commander, General Menoher, before the trucks went to pick upG Company. Meanwhile, two tanks and the antiaircraft vehicles started forthe roadblock position. Colonel McGrail went on ahead and waited at the13th Field Artillery Battalion headquarters for the armored vehicles toarrive. They had just arrived when Logan met General Dean. [59]

Logan told General Dean of the situation at the roadblock and offeredto lead the armored vehicles to break the block. Dean said that ColonelMcGrail would lead the force and that he, Logan, should continue on southand form a new position just west of Taejon airfield. While Logan stoodat the roadside talking with General Dean, a small group of five jeepscame racing toward them. Lt. Col. Homer B. Chandler, the 19th InfantryExecutive Officer, rode in the lead jeep. He had led four jeeps loadedwith wounded through the roadblock. Every one of the wounded had been hitagain one or more times by enemy fire during their wild ride. [60]

McGrail now started up the road with the relief force. One light tankled, followed by the four antiaircraft vehicles loaded with soldiers; thesecond light tank brought up the rear. About one mile north of the formerposition of the 13th Field Artillery Battalion, enemy heavy machine gunand light antitank fire ripped into the column just after it rounded abend and came onto a straight stretch of the road. Two vehicles stoppedand returned the enemy fire. Most of the infantry in the antiaircraft vehiclesjumped out and scrambled for the roadside ditches. As McGrail went intoa ditch he noticed Colonel Meloy's and Major Logan's wrecked jeeps nearby.Enemy fire destroyed the four antiaircraft vehicles. After expending theirammunition, the tanks about 1600 turned around and headed back down theroad. McGrail crawled back along the roadside ditch and eventually gotout of enemy fire. The personnel in the four antiaircraft vehicles sufferedan estimated 90 percent casualties. The location of the wrecked Meloy and Logan jeeps would indicate that McGrail's relief force camewithin 300 to 400 yards of the regimental column piled up behind the roadblockaround the next turn of the road. [61]

Back near Kongju on the regimental west flank, G Company came off itshill positions and waited for trucks to transport it to the roadblock area.Elements of H Company went on ahead in their own transportation. CaptainMontesclaros stayed with the I&R Platoon, and it and the engineersblew craters in the road. They were the last to leave. At Yusong GeneralMenoher met Capt. Michael Barszcz, commanding officer of G Company, whenthe company arrived there from the west flank. Fearing that enemy tankswere approaching, Menoher ordered him to deploy his men along the riverbank in the town.

Later Barszcz received orders to lead his company forward to attackthe enemy-held roadblock. On the way, Barszcz met a small convoy of vehiclesled by a 2 1/2 ton truck. A Military Police officer riding the front fenderof the truck yelled, "Tanks, Tanks!" as it hurtled past. Barszczordered his driver to turn the jeep across the road to block it and theG Company men scrambled off their vehicles into the ditches. But therewere no enemy tanks, and, after a few minutes, Barszcz had G Company onthe road again, this time on foot. Some distance ahead, he met GeneralDean who ordered him to make contact with the enemy and try to break theroadblock. [62]

About six miles north of Yusong and two miles south of Tuman-ni, G Companycame under long-range enemy fire. Barszcz received orders to advance alonghigh ground on the left of the road. He was told that enemy troops wereon the hill half a mile ahead and to the left. While climbing the hillthe company suffered several casualties from enemy fire. They dug in ontop at dusk. A short time later a runner brought word for them to comedown to the road and withdraw. That ended the effort of the 19th Infantryand the 24th Division to break the roadblock behind the regiment. [63]

Efforts to break the enemy roadblock at both its northern and southernextremities disclosed that it covered about a mile and a half of road.The enemy soldiers imposing it were on a Y-shaped hill mass whose two prongsdropped steeply to the Yongsu River at their eastern bases and overlookedthe Seoul-Pusan highway.

Behind the roadblock, the trapped men had waited during the afternoon.They could not see either of the two attempts to reach them from the southbecause of a finger ridge cutting off their view. Not all the troops alongthe river line, however, came to the roadblock; many groups scattered intothe hills and moved off singly or in small units south and east towardTaejon.

About 1800, several staff officers decided that they would place ColonelMeloy in the last tank and run it through the roadblock. The tank madefour efforts before it succeeded in pushing aside the pile of smoldering2 1/2-ton trucks and other equipment blocking the road. Then it rumbled southward. Abouttwenty vehicles followed the tank through the roadblock, including a trucktowing a 105-mm. howitzer of the 52d Field Artillery Battalion, beforeenemy fire closed the road again and for the last time. A few miles southof the roadblock the tank stopped because of mechanical failure. ThereCaptain Barszcz and G Company, withdrawing toward Yusong, came upon itand Colonel Meloy. No one had been able to stop any of the vehicles forhelp that had followed the tank through the roadblock. Instead, they spedpast the disabled tank. The tank commander, Lt. J. N. Roush, upon ColonelMeloy's orders, dropped a thermite grenade into the tank and destroyedit. Eventually, an officer returned with a commandeered truck and tookColonel Meloy and other wounded men to Yusong. [64]

About an hour after the tank carrying Colonel Meloy had broken throughthe roadblock, Captain Fenstermacher, acting under his authority from MajorLogan, ordered all personnel to prepare for cross-country movement. Thecritically wounded and those unable to walk were placed on litters. Therewere an estimated 500 men and approximately 100 vehicles at the roadblockat this time. Captain Fenstermacher and others poured gasoline on the vehiclesand then set them afire. While so engaged, Captain Fenstermacher was shotthrough the neck. About 2100 the last of the men at the roadblock movedeastward into the hills. [65]

One group of infantrymen, artillerymen, engineers, and medical and headquarterstroops, numbering approximately 100 men, climbed the mountain east of theroad. They took with them about 30 wounded, including several litter cases.About 40 men of this group were detailed to serve as litter bearers butmany of them disappeared while making the ascent. On top of the mountainthe men still with the seriously wounded decided they could take them nofarther. Chaplain Herman G. Felhoelter remained behind with the wounded.When a party of North Koreans could be heard approaching, at the Chaplain'surging, Capt. Linton J. Buttrey, the medical officer, escaped, though seriouslywounded in doing so. From a distance, 1st Sgt James W. R. Haskins of HeadquartersCompany saw through his binoculars a group of what appeared to be youngNorth Korean soldiers murder the wounded men and the valiant chaplain asthe latter prayed over them. [66]

All night long and into the next day, 17 July, stragglers and thosewho had escaped through the hills filtered into Yusong and Taejon. Onlytwo rifle companies of the 19th Infantry were relatively intact-G and ECompanies. On the eastern flank near the railroad bridge, E Company wasnot engaged during the Kum River battle and that night received orders to withdraw.

When Captain Barszcz encountered Colonel Meloy at the stalled tank thelatter had ordered him to dig in across the road at the first good defensiveterrain he could find. Barszcz selected positions at Yusong. There G Companydug in and occupied the most advanced organized defense position of theU.S. 24th Division beyond Taejon on the morning of 17 July. [67]

The North Korean 3d Division fought the battle of theKum River on 16 July without tanks south of the river. Most of the Americanlight tanks in the action gave a mixed performance. At the roadblock onone occasion, when Major Logan ordered two tanks to go around a bend inthe road and fire on the enemy machine gun positions in an attempt to silencethem while the regimental column ran through the block, the tankers refusedto do so unless accompanied by infantry. Later these tanks escaped throughthe roadblock without orders. An artillery officer meeting General Deanat the south end of the roadblock asked him if there was anything he coulddo. Dean replied, "No, thank you," and then with a wry smilethe general added, "unless you can help me give these tankers a littlecourage." [68]

The 19th Infantry regimental headquarters and the 1st Battalion lostnearly all their vehicles and heavy equipment north of the roadblock. The52d Field Artillery Battalion lost 8 105-mm. howitzers and most of itsequipment; it brought out only 1 howitzer and 3 vehicles. The 13th and11th Field Artillery Battalions, two miles south of the 52d, withdrew inthe late afternoon to the Taejon airstrip without loss of either weaponsor vehicles. [69]

The battle of the Kum on 16 July was a black day for the 19th InfantryRegiment. Of the approximately 900 men in position along the river only434 reported for duty in the Taejon area the next day. A count disclosedthat of the 34 officers in the regimental Headquarters, Service, Medical,and Heavy Mortar Companies, and the 1st Battalion, 17 were killed or missingin action. Of these, 13 later were confirmed as killed in action. All therifle companies of the 1st Battalion suffered heavy casualties, but thegreatest was in C Company, which had total casualties of 122 men out of171. The regimental headquarters lost 57 of 191 men. The 1st Battalionlost 338 out of 785 men, or 43 percent, the 2d Battalion, 86 out of 777men; the 52d Field Artillery Battalion had 55 casualties out of 393 men,or 14 percent. The total loss of the regiment and all attached and artilleryunits engaged in the action was 650 out of 3,401, or 19 percent. [70]

During 17 July, B Company of the 34th Infantry relieved G Company, 19thInfantry, in the latter's position at Yusong, five miles northwest of Taejon.The 18th Infantry that afternoon moved to Yongdong, twenty-five air milessoutheast of Taejon, to re-equip. [71]

In the battle of the Kum River on 16 July one sees the result of a defendingforce lacking an adequate reserve to deal with enemy penetrations and flankmovement. Colonel Meloy never faltered in his belief that if he had nothad to send two-thirds of his reserve to the left flank after the collapseof the 34th Infantry at Kongju, he could have prevented the North Koreansfrom establishing their roadblock or could have reduced it by attack fromhigh ground. The regiment did repel, or by counterattack drive out, allfrontal attacks and major penetrations of its river positions except thatthrough C Company on Hill 200. But it showed no ability to organize counterattackswith available forces once the roadblock had been established. By noon,demoralization had set in among the troops, many of whom were near exhaustionfrom the blazing sun and the long hours of tension and combat. They simplyrefused to climb the hills to attack the enemy's automatic weapons positions.

The N.K. 3d Division, for its part, pressed home an attack whichaimed to pin down the 19th Infantry by frontal attack while it carriedout a double envelopment of the flanks. The envelopment of the Americanleft flank resulted in the fatal roadblock three miles below the Kum onthe main supply road. This North Korean method of attack had characterizedmost other earlier actions and it seldom varied in later ones.


[1] 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 406, 101115 Jul 50; 3d Engr (C) Bn WD, 14 Jul 50.

[2] 24th Recon Co WD, 12 Jul 50; ADCOM G-3 Log, 202513 Jul 50; 24th Div G-2 Jnl, entry 778, 131330 Jul 50.

[3] 24th Div WD, Narr Summ, 13 Jul 50: Ibid., G-2 Jnl, entries 681 and 790, 122200 and 131445 Jul 50; EUSAK WD, G-2 Sec, 13 Jul 50.

[4]Ltr and Comments, Wadlington to author, I Apr 53 (Wadlington commanded the 34th Infantry at the time); 24h Div WD, Narr Summ, 13 Jul 50.

[5] 24th Div WD, G-3 Jnl, entry 413, 131535 Jul 50; Ibid., G-1 Stf Hist Rpt, 14 Jul 50.

[6] ATIS Res Supp, Issue 2 (Documentary Evidence of N.K. Aggression), Interrog 118; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Div), p. 46; 24th Div WD, G-2 Sec, PW Interrog file, interrog of 2d Lt Bai Jun Pal, 12 and 13 Jul 50.

[7] EUSAK WD, G-2 Stf Rpt, 13 and 22 Jul 50; 24h Div WD, G-2 PW Interrog File, interrog of Lee Ki Sup, 20 Jul 50.

[8] Interv, Mitchell with MSgt Milo W. Garman (Plat Sgt, 2d Plat, K Co. 34th Inf), 1 Aug 50; Interv, Mitchell with 2d Lt James B. Bryant (Plat Ldr, B Co, 34th Inf), 30 Jul 50; Wadlington Comments; Ltr, Lt Col Harold B. Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52.

[9] Interv, 1st Lt Billy C. Mossman with Stith, Jul 50; Wadlington Comments.

[10] 24th Div WD, 13 Jul 50; 3d Engr (C) Bn Unit WD, 13 Jul 50; Interv, Mitchell with MSgt Wallace A. Wagnebreth (Plat Ldr, L Co, 34th Inf), 31 Jul 50, copy in OCMH.

[11] Interv, Mitchell with Garman, 1 Aug 50; Wadlington Comments.

[12] Interv, Mossman with Stith, 31 Jul 50; Interv, Mitchell with Wagnebreth, 31 Jul 50; Interv, Mossman with Pfc Doyle L. Wilson, L Co, 34th Inf, 2 Aug 50; Interv, author with Maj Clarence H. Ellis, Jr. (S-3 Sec, 11th FA Bn, Jul 50), 22 Jul 54; Interv, Mossman with SFC Clayton F. Cores (Intel Sgt, Hq Btry, 63d FA Bn), 31 Jul 50. [13] Intervs, Mossman with Stith, 31 Jul 50, and Wilson, 2 Aug 50; Interv, Mitchell with Wagnebreth, 31 Jul 50.

[14] Interv, Mitchell with Cpl Lawrence A. Ray (A Btry, 63d FA Bn), 29 Jul 50.

[15] Interv, Mitchell with SFC Leonard J. Smith (Chief Computer, FDC, Hq Btry, 63d FA Bn), 29 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 1056, statement of Lee Kyn Soon.

[16] Intervs, Mossman with Pvt Fred M. Odle (A Btry, 63d FA Bn), 28 Jul 50, and Sgt Leon L. Tucker (Hq Btry, 63d FA Bn), 31 Jul 50; interv,Mitchell with Ray, 29 Jul 50. General Order 55, 7 September 1950, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Corporal Ray. EUSAK WD.

[17] Interv, Mitchell with Smith, 29 Jul 50; Washington Post, April 9, 1953.

[18] Interv, Mitchell with Pvt William R. Evans, 29 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 1056, 15-19 Jul 50, statement of Capt Stahelski.

[19] Interv, Mossman with Tucker, 31 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, 14 July 50. Enemy sources indicate the N.K. 4th Division occupied Kongju by 2200, 14 July, and claim that the 16th Regiment in overrunning the 63d Field Artillery Battalion captured 86 prisoners 10 105-mm. howitzers, 17 other weapons, 86 vehicles and a large amount of ammunition. See ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Division), p. 46 [20] 24th Div WD, G-3 Jnl, entry 457, 141025 Jul 50: Wadlington Comments; Ltr, Maj David A. Bissett, Jr. (Sr Aide to Gen Dean, Jul 50), 14 Jul 52.

[21] Wadlington Comments; Ltr, Wadlington to author, 2 Jun 55.

[22] Wadlington Comments and Ltr to author, 1 Apr 53; Ltr, Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52; Interv, Mossman with Gores, 31 Jul 50: 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 1056, 15-19 Jul 50. The communications officer of the 63d Field Artillery Battalion, 1st Lt. Herman W. Starling, however, has stated that about 1400 he went to the 1st Battalion command post and reported that the artillery was under attack and asked for help. Ayres says he has no knowledge of this but that it might have occurred in his absence since he was away from his post command most of the day. He says no one on his staff reported such an incident to him.

[23] Ltr, Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52; Interv, Mitchell with Bryant, 30 Jul 50; Wadlington Comments; 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 1056, 15-19 Jul 50.

[24] 24th Div Arty WD, 15 Jul 50; Barth MS, p. 5.

[25] Wadlington Comments; Interv, Mitchell with Sgt Justin B. Fleming (2d Plat, I Co, 34th Inf), 1 Aug 50.

[26] 24th Div WD, G-3 Jnl, entry 495, 141830 Jul 50. [27] Ibid., entry 487, 141640 Jul 50; Ltr, Stephens to author, 17 Apr 52.

[28] 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 936. 150830 Jul 50; Ibid., G-3 Jnl, entry 562, 151945 Jul 50; Ibid., Narr Summ, 25 Jun-22 Jul 50.

[29] 21st Inf WD, 13 Jul 50; 19th Inf WD, 13 Jul 50.

[30] Interv, Mitchell with Col Meloy, 30 Jul 50. Standard practice was to blow the spans adjacent to the friendly side of a stream.

[31] There were two 600 foot high hills (Hills 200) in the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry, zone. The second is close to the highway and just east of the village of Palsan.

[32] The positions given for the 19th Infantry at the Kum River are based on 19th Inf WD, 13 Jul 50; Ltr, Brig Gen Guy S. Meloy, Jr., to author, 6 Jul 52; Notes and overlays of 19th Inf position 14-16 Jul 50 prepared by Lt Col Edward O. Logan (S-3, 19th Inf, at Kum River) for author, Jun 52: Interv, author with Maj Melicio Montesclaros, 20 Aug 52; Intervs, Capt Martin Blumenson with 2d Lt Charles C. Early (Plat Ldr, 3d Plat, B Co, 19th Inf), 26 Aug 51, with 2d Lt Augustus B. Orr (Plat Ldr, C Co, 19th Inf), 26 Aug 51, and with Capt Elliot C. Cutler, Jr. (CO Hv Mort Co, 19th Inf at Kum River), 27 Aug. 51.

[33] Overlay, Logan for author, Jun 52; Ltr and sketch map, Col Perry (CO 52d FA Bn at Kum River) for author, 8 Jun 52. [34] 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 911, 142105 Jul 50; 19th Inf WD, 14 Jul 50. [35] Ltr, Meloy to author, 4 Dec 52; Overlay, Logan for author, Jun 52.

[36] Ltr, Meloy to author, 29 May 52; Ltr, Capt Michael Barszcz (CO G Co, 19th Inf) to author, 3 Jul 52; Notes and overlay, Logan for author, Jun 52; 19th Inf WD, 14-15 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, 15 Jul 50; EUSAK WD, G-3Sec, Msg at 151700 Jul 50. [37] 21st Inf WD, 29 Jun-22 Jul 50 and Incl II, Activities Rpt 1st Bn; 24th Div WD, G-3 Jnl, entry 408, 131440 Jul 50; Ltr, Gen Stephens to author, 17 Apr 52.

[38] Ltr, Stephens to author, 17 Apr 52; Ltr, Perry to author, 8 Jun 52; 21st Inf WD, 15-16 Jul 50.

[39] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (N.K. 3d Div), p. 32.

[40] Ltr, Meloy to author, 30 Dec 52; Intervs, Blumenson with Early, 26 Aug 51, and Orr, 26 Aug 51; 19th Inf WD, 15 Jul 50.

[41] Ltr, Meloy to author, 29 May 52; 19th Inf WD, 16 Jul 50; 13th FA Bn WD, 16 Jul 50. The journal of the 19th Infantry was lost in action on the 16th. The summary of events in the regimental war diary for 16 July was compiled later from memory by the regimental staff.

[42] Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52, quoting his conversation with Winstead on 16 Jul 50.

[43] Interv, Blumenson with Orr, 26 Aug 51.

[44] Interv, Blumenson with Early, 26 Aug 51.

[45] Ibid.; Ltrs, Meloy to author, 4, 30 Dec 52. [46] Ltrs, Meloy to author, 4, 30 Dec 52; Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52; Ltr, Meloy to author, 29 May 52.

[47] Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52; Ltr, Meloy to author, 29 May 52: Interv, Mitchell with Meloy, 30 Jul 50; Intervs, Blumenson with Early, 26 Aug 51, and Cutler, 27 Aug 51: 24th Div WD, G-3 Jnl, entry 583, 160730, Jul 50.

[48] Ltrs, Meloy to author, 29 May, 20 Aug, and 30 Dec 52. [49] 19th Inf WD, Summ, 16 Jul 50; 52d FA Bn WD, 16 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-3 Jnl, entry 160910 Jul 50; Ltr, Meloy to author, 30 Dec 52.

[50] Ltrs, Meloy to author, 29 May, 20 Aug, and 30 Dec 52.

[51] Notes and overlay, Logan for author, Jun 52.

[52] Ltr, Col Perry to author, 8 Jun 52; Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52; Ltr, Meloy to author, 30 Dec 52; 52d FA Bn WD, 16 Jul 50; 13th FA Bn WD, 16 Jul 50. General Order 120, 5 September 1950, 24th Division, awarded the Silver Star to Lieutenant Steele for action on 16 July. [53] Ltr, Perry to author, 8 Jun 52; Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52, quoting Maj Leon B. Cheek, S-3, 13th FA Bn; Interv, Blumenson with Lt Nash (S-4, 2d Bn, 19th Inf), 1 Aug 51.

[54] Ltr, Meloy to author, 29 May, 7 Jul, 4 Dec, and 30 Dec 52; Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52; 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 1031, 161300 Jul 50. The message in the G-2 Journal reporting Logan's conversation with General Dean reads, "Colonel Meloy hit in calf of leg. Winstead in command. Vehicles badly jammed. Baker Battery is no more [apparently referring to B Battery, 52d Field Artillery Battalion, but in error]. Will fight them and occupy position in rear. Both sides of road. Vehicles jammed. Taking a pounding in front. Air Force does not seem able to find or silence tanks."

[55] Interv, Blumenson with Orr, 26 Aug 51.

[56] Ibid.; Ltr, Meloy to author, 4 Dec 52, citing comments provided him by Capt Anderson, CO, B Co.

[57] Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52; Interv. Blumenson with Lt Smith (D Co, 19th Inf), 25 Aug 51.

[58] Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52; Interv, author with Col Thomas M. McGrail, 24 Oct 52.

[59] Interv, Blumenson with Nash, 1 Aug 51: Interv, author with McGrail, 24 Oct 52.

[60] Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52: Interv, author with McGrail, 24 Oct 52.

[61] Ibid.; 19th Inf WD, 16 Jul 50; 78th Hv Tk Bn, A Co, WD, 16 Jul 50.

[62] Ltr, Barszcz to author, 3 Jul 52; Interv, author with Montesclaros, 20 Aug 52. Interv, Blumenson with 2d Lt Robert L. Merbert (Plat Ldr, 2d Plat, G Co, 19th Inf), 20 Aug 51.

[63] Ltr, Barszcz to author, 3 Jul 52; Interv, Blumenson with Herbert, 20 Aug 51.

[64] Ltrs, Meloy to author, 20 Aug and 30 Dec 52; Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52; Intervs, Blumenson with Early, 26 Aug 51 and Herbert, 20 Aug 51; 52d FA Bn WD, 16 Jul 50; 13th FA Bn WD, 16 Jul 50; Intervs, author with Huckabay and Eversole, 52d FA Bn, 4 Aug 51. [65] Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52; Ltr, Meloy to author, 4 Dec 52 (both Meloy and Logan quote information from Fenstermacher on the departure from the roadblock); Interv, Blumenson with Early, 26 Aug 51; 19th Inf WD, 16 Jul 50.

[66] Interv, Blumenson with Early, 26 Aug 51; Ltr, Meloy to author, quoting Fenstermacher, 4 Dec 52; Notes, Logan to author, Jun 52; New York Herald Tribune, July 19, 1950.

[67] Ltr, Barszcz to author, 3 Jul 52.

[68] Ltr, Meloy to author, 29 May 52; Notes, Logan for author, Jun 52; Interv, author with Maj Leon B. Cheek, 5 Aug 51.

[69] Ltr, Col Perry to author, 6 Nov 52; 52d FA Bn WD, 16 Jul 50; 13th FA Bn WD, 16 Jul 50; Interv, author with Maj Jack J. Kron (Ex Off, 13th FA Bn), 4 Aug 51. The 11th Field Artillery Battalion on 14 July received a third firing battery, thus becoming the first U.S. artillery battalion in action in the Korean War to have the full complement of three firing batteries. Interv, author with Cheek, 5 Aug 51; 19th Inf WD, 16 Jul 50.

[70] Table, Confirmed KIA as of August 1, 1951, 19th Infantry, for 16 Jul 50, copy supplied author by Gen Meloy; Intervs, Blumenson with Early and Orr, 26 Aug 51; The Rand Corporation, Dr. J, O'Sullivan, Statistical Study of Casualties 19th Infantry at Battle of Taep'yong-ni, 16 July 1950.

[71] 19th Inf WD, 17 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-4 Summ, 17-18 Jul 50.

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