The Eighth Army moved forward as scheduled on 24 November, and against light to moderate resistance registered gains of as much as twelve miles during the first thirty-six hours. (Map IV) MacArthur's G-2, General Willoughby, forecast confidently on 26 November that "Should the enemy persist in his present non-aggressive attitude and withdraw, he may find sanctuary behind the Yalu River." But in terms more prophetic than he knew, he added that "Should the enemy elect to fight in the interior valleys, a slowing down of the United Nations offensive may result." 
Beginning shortly after dark on 25 November, strong Chinese forces struck suddenly and hard at General Walker's central and eastern units. (Map V) The ROK II Corps, at Walker's right, scattered before the vicious onslaught. The IX Corps, in the center, reeled, held briefly, then gave ground. On Walker's left, the I Corps, under no pressure except at its east flank, withdrew in coordination with the IX Corps' rearward moves. 
Walker notified Tokyo at noon on 27 November that the Chinese were attacking in strength, but that it was too early to tell if the Chinese meant to sustain their attacks. On the following day, he reported that the enemy attack force numbered some 200,000, all of them apparently Chinese, and that he was no longer in doubt that the Chinese had opened a general offensive.  The Chinese broadened their offensive on 27 November with attacks against the X Corps. General Almond's Marine troops had scarcely begun their advance toward Mup'yong-ni on the 27th before they met strong resistance; and on the 28th Chinese units slipped southeastward past the Marines and cut their supply route.
This wide display of Chinese strength also swept away General MacArthur's doubts. "No pretext of minor support under the guise of volunteerism or other
 Telecon, TT 4063, DA and GHQ, FEC, UNC, 26 Nov. 50.
 Details of the Chinese offensive and subsequent actions may be found in B. C. Mossman, Ebb and Flow, presently in preparation as part of the UNITED STATES ARMY IN THE KOREAN WAR series.
 (1) Telecon, Gen. Hickey and Col. Landrum, 1225, 27 Nov. 50, in GHQ, UNC files. (2) Rad, G 30065 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to CINCFE, 28 Nov. 50.
subterfuge now has the slightest validity. We face an entirely new war."  Instead of fighting fragments of the North Korean Army reinforced by token Chinese forces, Walker and Almond apparently now faced a total Chinese force of about 300,000. 
MacArthur claimed that Walker's 24 November advance had forced the Chinese to attack prematurely, theorizing that the Chinese originally planned to launch their offensive in the spring of 1951 when better weather and greater supply and troop resources would be at hand. But even if his claim were correct, the Chinese attack gave MacArthur no real advantage. For he was finding it increasingly difficult, and so admitted to Washington, to interdict enemy routes of reinforcement and resupply from Manchuria because the Yalu River was now freezing hard enough to permit the Chinese to cross without using bridges. Furthermore:
It is quite evident that our present strength of force is not sufficient to meet this undeclared war by the Chinese with the inherent advantages which accrue thereby to them. The resulting situation presents an entire new picture which broadens the potentialities to world-embracing considerations beyond the sphere of decision by the Theater Commander.
Having thus shifted responsibility for the next decision to Washington, MacArthur announced that for the time being he intended to pass from the offensive to the defensive, making local adjustments as the ground situation required. 
As reflected in MacArthur's abrupt change in tactics, the opening episode of the Chinese offensive had reversed the course of the war. The Chinese opening success was due largely to the skillful execution of well-laid plans, in particular to the achievement of complete surprise. That surprise was not wholly the result of superior Chinese camouflage and march discipline. Intelligence received by MacArthur and his senior commanders had been incompatible and inconclusive. But this intelligence did provide clear warnings that Chinese forces were poised between United Nations troops and the northern border of Korea. Much of the surprise achieved by the Chinese stemmed from the tendency of U.N. leaders to discount these warnings.
As a defense of his own judgment and the efforts of the theater intelligence officers MacArthur insisted ". . . that the intelligence that a nation is going to launch war, is not an intelligence that is available to a commander, limited to a small area of combat. That intelligence should have been given to me." 
But at the national level, authorities declared that Chinese intentions had not been sufficiently clear to permit a definite judgment. General Bradley, in fact, maintained that the Department of Defense had had no intelligence that the Chinese would enter the war. 
The daily estimates given MacArthur by his own intelligence staff were supplemented by General Willoughby in private presentations. Whether Willoughby gave MacArthur different information from that contained in the daily estimates is not known, but beyond doubt, Willoughby's presentations amplified the
 Rad, C 69953, CINCFE to JCS, 28 Nov. 50.
 MacArthur Hearings, p. 18.
 MacArthur Hearings, p. 759.
routine staff reports. On the assumption that the G-2's published estimates and personal briefings were similar, MacArthur must have learned of the enemy's capabilities and the order in which those capabilities might be employed. But he possibly found the reports also puzzling and contradictory. On 15 November, Willoughby's staff forecast that the most likely sequence of enemy moves would be (1) Conduct of offensive operations. (2) Reinforce with communist forces from outside Korea. (3) Conduct guerrilla operations. (4) Defend. Then, in amplification of this forecast, Willoughby's officers reported:
Information received from Chinese Nationalist military sources, during the past few days gives strong support to an assumption that the Chinese Communists intend to "throw the book" at United Nations forces in Korea.... It is fast becoming apparent that an excessive number of troops are entering Northeast China.... Such a marshaling of troops cannot be explained in terms of redeployment . . . or demobilization. It seems doubtful that the Chinese Communists, if intending to intervene in Korea would wait until this late in the war. On the other hand it seems incredible that the Chinese Communists have deluded themselves with their own propaganda and fear a United States attack on Manchuria. 
Such contradictions could scarcely have been of much help to MacArthur in deciding for himself what the enemy most probably would do.
On 16 November, General MacArthur was told that the Chinese Communists had probably deployed twelve divisions of trained soldiers in Korea. Three days later he was told that "it would appear logical to conclude that Chinese Communist leaders are preparing their people psychologically for war." On the same day that the Eighth Army struck northward in its general offensive, Willoughby reported that "Even though Chinese Communist strategy may not favor an immediate full-scale war, preparations for such an eventuality appear to be in progress." 
On the second day of the attack, before the Chinese had fully committed themselves, Far East Command intelligence officers changed the predicted order of enemy courses of action, placing reinforcement from outside Korea at the top of the list, and the conduct of offensive operations in second place. But again MacArthur received contradictory estimates of Chinese intentions when he was told:
Although too early for concrete evaluation, there are some indications of a withdrawal of Chinese Communist forces to the Yalu or across the border into Manchuria. . . On the other hand, there are many reports of Chinese Communist plans to strengthen their intervention forces now in Korea and all indications point to a heavy troop buildup in Northeast China and Manchuria. . . . Also there are many indications that the Chinese Communists will stubbornly defend reservoir and power installations along the Yalu.... 
These vacillatory daily reports contained too many qualifying clauses to permit a positive forecast. But in the sense that they indicated a continuing
 (1) DIS, GHQ, FEC No. 2989, 15 Nov. 50. (2) General Willoughby's later explanation of intelligence failure sheds no light on the mystery but is of interest to readers wishing greater detail. See Willoughby, MacArthur, 1941-1951, pp. 378-90.
 (1) DIS, GHQ, FEC, No. 2990, 16 Nov. 50. (2) DIS GHQ, FEC, No. 2993, 19 Nov. 50. (3) DIS GHQ, FEC, No. 2998, 24 Nov. 50. On 16 November, about thirty CCF divisions were in Korea.
 DIS, GHQ, FEC, No. 2999, 25 Nov. 50.
Chinese build-up in Manchuria and Korea and that they did point out psychological and other preparations for an offensive against United Nations forces, these reports possessed some validity.
The reasons that prompted General MacArthur to persist in his drive to the border in the face of the very obvious Chinese potential to meet his advance with considerable military force, must remain conjectural. He was aware of the presence in Korea of substantial numbers of Chinese soldiers; and his own staff had warned him of the great Chinese potential for immediate reinforcement. He had never been told, however, that the enemy had as many divisions in Korea as actually were present.
MacArthur's determination to pursue his mission to the bitter end appears to have had its basis in three concepts. First, MacArthur apparently thought that the Chinese build-up and threatening posture were part of a gigantic bluff and that the Chinese, since they could not afford to go to war with the United States, would not attack his forces. The tenor of his message to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 24 November, turning down their suggestion that he establish a holding line some distance short of the Yalu, clearly shows that he minimized the Chinese menace.  He felt, it is also clear, that it was pretty late in the day for the Chinese to be entering Korea, and that if they had been serious in their intentions they would have intervened when United Nations forces were still in the vicinity of the 38th Parallel. Willoughby, too, doubted ". . . that the Chinese Communists, if intending to intervene in Korea, would wait until this late in the war." 
MacArthur did not fear the Chinese and felt that in the event he was mistaken and the Chinese were not bluffing, his forces were capable of taking care of both the Chinese and the North Koreans. For, as noted earlier, he had pointed out to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Chinese Communist entry was a risk taken in full knowledge of the situation. Chinese entry during the Pusan days would have been extremely dangerous. But now that the UNC held the initiative and had less area to defend the risk was much smaller.  Only a few days before, he had told the Joint Chiefs that his air forces had succeeded in isolating the battle area and in cutting off enemy reinforcement and choking off enemy supply.  MacArthur seems to have overestimated the power of his own command vis-à-vis the Chinese. Both the Eighth Army and the X Corps, he reasoned, were victorious, battle-tested military forces. His naval and air forces gave him complete control of the sea and air. Furthermore, Chinese troops, during World War II, had proven inferior to Japanese troops and thus, by inference, to American troops.
A significant factor was MacArthur's belief that his air power could isolate the battlefield. MacArthur still persisted in this view on the eve of the attack to the Yalu. He announced on 24 November, "My air force for the past three weeks, in a sustained attack of model coordination and effectiveness, successfully interdicted enemy lines of support from the
 Rad, C 69808, CINCUNC to DA, 25 Nov. 50.
 DIS, GHQ, FEC, No. 2998, 15 Nov. 50.
 Rad, C 69808, CINCUNC to DA, 25 Nov. 50.
 Rad, C 69211, CINCUNC to DA, 18 Nov. 50.
north so that further reinforcement therefrom has been sharply curtailed and essential supplies markedly limited." General Wright contends that this belief in the effectiveness of air power was one of General MacArthur's greatest weaknesses in dealing with the Chinese. 
But, from all indications, the overriding consideration in MacArthur's decision to push on to the Yalu was his firm conviction that his mission, "the destruction of the North Korean Armed Forces," dictated his line of action, and could be accomplished only by an advance to the border. This mission, in spite of noticeable tendencies on the part of Washington toward its modification, was not altered, largely because of MacArthur's vehement protests during November.  When the Joint Chiefs of Staff had told MacArthur on 8 November that ". . . this new situation indicates that your objective . . . the destruction of the North Korean armed forces may have to be re-examined,"  MacArthur retorted in extremely strong terms that any course short of complete destruction of the enemy would be tantamount to abject surrender and a breaking of faith with the peoples of Asia. 
There is little doubt that MacArthur ardently believed in his mission and that he was more than willing to call what he regarded as a Chinese bluff in order to carry out that mission. He may well have recalled those tenets of American military doctrine which hold that "the mission is the basic factor in the commander's estimate," and that "to delay action in an emergency because of incomplete information shows a lack of energetic leadership, and may result in lost opportunities. The situation, at times, may require the taking of calculated risks." This is borne out by his explanation later of his northward advance as a "reconnaissance in force." He stated the alternatives which faced him on 24 November. ". . . One," he testified, "was to ascertain the truth of the strength of what he [the enemy] had; the other was to sit where we were. Had we done that he would have built up his forces, and undoubtedly destroyed us. The third was to go in precipitate retreat, which would not have been countenanced, I am quite sure." 
MacArthur also vindicated his advance by insisting that ". . . the disposition of those troops [Eighth Army and X Corps], in my opinion, could not have been improved upon, had I known the Chinese were going to attack."  Actually, the Eighth Army, when hit by the Chinese, was deployed on a broad front with its right flank open and was supported by few reserves. Almond's corps was strung out in widely separated columns advancing through extremely rugged terrain. Not only was the X Corps' left flank unprotected, but Chinese forces of considerable strength had been reported on that flank.
General MacArthur called an emergency council of war in Tokyo on the night of 28 November. Generals Walker
 (1) GHQ, UNC Communiqué No. 12, 24 Nov. 50. (2) Interv, Gen. Wright with Col. Appleman, copy in OCMH.
 Rad, JCS 69808, CINCUNC to JCS, 25 Nov. 50.
 Rad, JCS 96060, JCS to CINCFE, 8 Nov. 50.
 Rad, C 68572, CINCFE to JCS, 9 Nov. 50.
 MacArthur Hearings, pp. 20-21.
 Ibid., p. 19.
and Almond, hastily summoned from Korea, joined MacArthur, Hickey, Wright, Willoughby, and Whitney at MacArthur's American Embassy residence. In a meeting which lasted from 2150, 28 November, until 0130, 29 November, the seven officers studied the possible countermoves in meeting the entry of the Chinese. MacArthur, feeling that above all he must save his forces, finally ordered Walker to make withdrawals as necessary to keep the Chinese from outflanking him and directed Almond to maintain contact with the Chinese but to contract the X Corps into the Hamhung-Hungnam area.
Since the Eighth Army seemed in greater danger than Almond's corps, the main theme of the conference appears to have been "What can X Corps do to help Eighth Army?" When General Almond held that his first mission was to extricate the Marine and Army forces cut off in the Changjin Reservoir area, MacArthur agreed but asked Almond what he could do to relieve the Chinese pressure on Walker's right flank. General Wright suggested that Almond might send the U.S. 3d Division west across the Taebaek mountain range to join Eighth Army and to attack Chinese forces moving in on Walker's right flank. Pointing out that the road across the Taebaek Range appeared on the map but was actually nonexistent, Almond objected that the bitter winter weather and the possibility of strong Chinese forces in the gap between the two commands would make any such relief expedition an extremely hazardous venture in which the whole 3d Division might be lost. But he agreed to the scheme if Eighth Army would supply the division after it crossed to the west side of the Taebaek Mountains. Walker made no such promise, and MacArthur made no immediate decision on the attack. He later ordered, then canceled, a drive by a task force from the 3d Division to link up with the Eighth Army right flank. 
In Washington, meanwhile, the Joint Chiefs of Staff accepted General MacArthur's appraisal of the situation and approved his plans for passing from the offensive to the defensive. For some time, Admiral Sherman, Chief of Naval Operations, had been expressing concern over MacArthur's operations in northeastern Korea. In his opinion, the employment of U.S. naval vessels in support of the X Corps so close to Vladivostok offered the Russians a tempting pretext for intervening if they were so inclined. He insisted that the X Corps should be withdrawn to a general consolidated defense line.
On 29 November, the Joint Chiefs of Staff told MacArthur to put aside any previous directives in conflict with his current plan to defend. After calling attention to the need for coordinating Eighth Army and X Corps operations, the Joint Chiefs suggested that MacArthur should close the gap, more than thirty airline miles in width in the beginning and now widening, between Walker and Almond and form a continuous defense line across the peninsula.  But MacArthur differed with the Joint Chiefs. According to him, X Corps
 (1) Rad, C 50106, CINCFE to CG X Corps, 30 Nov. 50. (2) Interv, Col. Appleman with Almond, copy in OCMH.
 (1) Rad, JCS 97592, JCS to CINCFE, 29 Nov. 50. (2) Memo, CNO for JCS, 29 Nov. 50, sub: Sit in Northeast Korea.
units "geographically threatened" the main supply lines of enemy forces bearing down upon the right flank of the Eighth Army. He maintained that the Chinese had been forced to commit an estimated eight divisions to ward off X Corps thrusts against their supply lines, thus depriving them of eight divisions to throw against the Eighth Army. So long as the X Corps stayed in this position, MacArthur insisted, the Chinese could not, with any degree of safety or assurance of success, penetrate to the south through the existing corridor. He pointed out also the great difficulties of closing the gap.
Any concept of actual physical combination of the forces of the Eighth Army and X Corps in a practically continuous line across the narrow neck of Korea is quite impracticable due to the length of this line, the numerical weakness of our forces, and the logistical problems created by the mountainous divide which splits such a front from north to south. 
As to the immediate situation within the X Corps, General MacArthur informed his superiors that he had ordered Almond to pull his forces into the Hamhung-Hungnam sector. Almond had been specifically warned against allowing any piecemeal isolation and trapping of his forces. These forces were already fighting their way out of isolation and entrapment. MacArthur believed that, while the X Corps might seem overextended, the terrain conditions would make it extremely difficult for the Chinese Army to take any advantage of this fact. 
In a second message a few hours later, MacArthur gloomily predicted that the Eighth Army would not be able to make a stand in the foreseeable future and would ". . . successively have to replace to the rear." He had now concluded that the Chinese intended to destroy the U.N. forces completely and to secure all of Korea. 
General MacArthur's disclosure of plans for pulling the X Corps back into the Hamhung-Hungnam sector and his forecast of more withdrawals by the Eighth Army only increased the Joint Chiefs' concern. MacArthur's citation of the formidable mountainous terrain as a deterrent to enemy advances in strength was nullified, in the opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by the Chinese demonstrated ability to negotiate rugged land barriers. The compression of the X Corps, with the accompanying development of a progressively widening gap between Almond's and Walker's forces would, the Joint Chiefs told MacArthur on X December, afford the Chinese additional opportunity to move strong forces southward between the Eighth Army and X Corps. The first task, in their opinion, was to extricate the Marines and 7th Division troops from the Changjin Reservoir. But once that was done, they wanted the Eighth Army and X Corps "sufficiently coordinated to prevent large enemy forces from passing between them or outflanking either of them." Following their custom of not directing MacArthur's tactical disposition by specific orders, the Joint Chiefs of Staff discreetly but pointedly suggested once again that he join his forces in a defensive line across the peninsula. 
 Rad, C 50095, CINCUNC to DA for JCS, 30 Nov. 50.
 Rad, C 50105, CINCFE to DA, 30 Nov. 50.
 Rad, JCS 97772, JCS to CINCFE, 1 Dec. 50.
But MacArthur remained solidly against any junction of the Eighth Army and X Corps at this time. Joining the two forces, he explained to his Washington superiors, would produce no significant added strength. It would, on the other hand, endanger the freedom of maneuver deriving from their separate lines of supply by sea. 
General MacArthur again offered other objections. He called the development of a defense line across the waist of the peninsula infeasible because of the numerical weakness of his forces and the distances involved. He called to the attention of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the necessity of supplying his two major forces from ports within their respective areas; and he reminded them of the geographical division of the peninsula into two compartments by the Taebaek mountain range which ran north and south between the Eighth Army and X Corps. A continuous line across the narrow waist would be approximately 120 airline miles, or 150 road miles, in length. MacArthur explained:
If the entire United States force of seven divisions at my disposal were placed along this defensive line it would mean that a division would be forced to protect a front of approximately twenty miles against greatly superior numbers of an enemy whose greatest strength is a potential for night infiltration through rugged terrain. Such a line with no depth, would have little strength, and as a defensive concept would invite penetration with resultant envelopment and piecemeal destruction.
MacArthur apparently had changed his mind about the ability of the Chinese to operate over the rough terrain in the gap between the X Corps and Eighth Army. 
MacArthur doubted that the Joint Chiefs fully realized the great changes wrought by the Chinese entry. He tabulated for them the latest of his intelligence agencies' estimates of enemy strength. Twenty-six Chinese divisions had been identified in combat and an additional 200,000 men were either in reserve or being committed. This formidable array of enemy strength was further augmented by the remnants of the North Korean Army which were being reorganized in rear areas. ". . . There stands, of course, behind all this, the entire military potential of Communist China." 
The terrain on which the fighting was taking place was having a twofold effect on the course of battle. It diminished the effectiveness of MacArthur's air arm in trying to channelize and interrupt the Chinese system of supply. Secondly, the rough ground aided the enemy in his dispersion tactics. These drawbacks, MacArthur maintained, greatly reduced the normal benefits which would be expected from complete control of the air. His naval potential, too, was greatly minimized by the concentration of enemy forces in areas inaccessible to naval gunfire. Under these circumstances, MacArthur held, the potential destructive force of the United Nations combined arms was greatly reduced and the question was becoming more and more one of the relative combat effectiveness of ground forces. 
Commenting on the condition of his
 Rad, C 50332, CINCUNC to DA for JCS, 3 Dec. 50.
own forces, MacArthur pointed out that while they so far had exhibited good morale and marked efficiency, they had been in almost incessant combat for five months and were mentally fatigued and physically battered. Moreover, with the exception of the 1st Marine Division, each American division then in Korea was at least 5,000 men understrength. The Chinese troops, on the other hand, appeared to be fresh, very well organized, splendidly trained and equipped, and apparently in peak condition for actual operations. 
MacArthur concluded that unless he promptly got ground reinforcements of the greatest magnitude, his command would be forced either into successive withdrawals with diminishing powers of resistance after each such move, or into taking up beachhead positions which, while insuring a degree of prolonged resistance, would afford little hope of anything beyond defense. He charged that his directives were now completely outmoded. The strategic concepts which had been evolved for operations against the North Korean Army were not suitable for continued application against the full power of the Chinese. Without being specific, MacArthur then called for sterner measures than he was then authorized to employ. "This calls for political decisions and strategic plans in implementation thereof, adequate fully to meet the realities involved," he declared. "In this, time is of the essence, as every hour sees the enemy power increase and ours decline."  In clear terms, the United Nations commander issued a prognosis which expressed his pessimism unmistakably. He told the authorities in Washington:
This small command, actually under present conditions, is facing the entire Chinese nation in an undeclared war, and, unless some positive and immediate action is taken, hope for success cannot be justified and steady attrition leading to final destruction can reasonably be contemplated. 
Faced with General MacArthur's strong objection to a defensive line across the peninsula, the Joint Chiefs of Staff yielded to his judgment. On 4 December, after obtaining President Truman's approval, they told MacArthur that they now regarded the preservation of his forces as the primary consideration and agreed to the consolidation of forces into beachheads. 
Eight thousand miles away from the fighting, however, the Joint Chiefs of Staff could not fully sense conditions in Korea. Consequently, General Collins flew to the Far East for conferences with MacArthur, Walker, and Almond and for a firsthand view of the battle. Collins intended to find out from MacArthur what chance he had to defend success fully, what general line or area he could hold, and for how long. Secondly, Collins wanted to obtain MacArthur's opinion of a cease-fire. 
Collins arrived in Tokyo on the morning of 4 December, conferred briefly with General MacArthur, then flew to
 (1) Rad, JCS 97917, JCS to CINCFE, 4 Dec. 50. (2) Truman, Memoirs, II, 393.
 Draft msg. for JCS Representative, 1 Dec. 50, in C-3, DA file 091 Korea, Case 127/8.
Korea for talks with General Walker and to inspect the Eighth Army's lines. Walker's troops had been withdrawing southward as agreed at the 28 November Tokyo conference, and although enemy pressure had lessened, were, at the time of Collins' inspection, dropping back below Sukch'on and Sunch'on to positions not far north of P'yongyang. Walker had already told MacArthur that he could not hold P'yongyang and estimated that the enemy would unquestionably force him to pull south of the 38th Parallel to the vicinity of Seoul.
Walker told Collins that he could continue the withdrawal without serious losses unless he were ordered to defend the Seoul-Inch'on area. If this happened the Chinese could encircle him. Walker felt, and General Collins concurred, that an evacuation from Inch'on would be very costly. If evacuation became necessary, Walker wanted to withdraw from Pusan, not Inch'on. He was confident he could get his forces safely into the Pusan area, and even considered it possible that he could hold there indefinitely if the X Corps reinforced him. 
Walker's troops passed below P'yongyang on 5 December, destroying many supplies there and falling back to new positions to the south. On the next day, General Collins flew to Hamhung to see General Almond. He found Almond confident that he could hold the Hamhung-Hungnam area for a considerable time without serious losses, and that he could withdraw successfully and cheaply when so ordered. Collins agreed with Almond's estimate.
Returning to Tokyo for a final conference on 6 December, Collins met with General MacArthur, Admiral Joy, and General Stratemeyer, and with key staff officers, Hickey, Willoughby, and Wright, for a full discussion of what moves to take against the Chinese. As a framework for their talks, they projected three hypothetical situations covering the next few weeks or months.
In the first, they posited that the Chinese would continue their all-out attack, but with MacArthur forbidden to mount air attacks against China; that no blockade of China would be set up; that no reinforcements would be sent to Korea by Chiang Kai-shek; that there would be no substantial increase in MacArthur's U.S. forces until April 1951 when four National Guard divisions might be sent MacArthur; and that the atomic bomb might be used in North Korea. General MacArthur spoke strongly, charging that placement of such limitations on his command while it remained under strong Chinese attack would represent essentially a surrender. Under these conditions the question of an armistice would be a political matter, helpful perhaps, but certainly not requisite from a military standpoint. His forces would have to be withdrawn from Korea in any case, and the United States should therefore not be hasty in seeking an armistice under these conditions. He agreed with Walker and Almond, as did General Collins, that the United Nations forces could be safely withdrawn from Pusan and Hungnam respectively, with or without an armistice.
Under the second set of conditions, the conferees assumed a situation in which the Chinese attack would continue, but with an effective naval
 Memo, Gen. Collins for JCS, 8 Dec. 50, sub: Rpt on Visit to FECOM and Korea, 4-7 Dec. 50.
blockade of China put in effect, air reconnaissance and bombing of the Chinese mainland allowed, Chinese Nationalist forces exploited to the maximum, and the atomic bomb to be used if tactically appropriate. Given these conditions, General MacArthur said he should be directed to hold positions in Korea as far north as possible. He would, in this case, move Almond's X Corps to Pusan to join the Eighth Army in an overland movement.
Under the third postulate, that the Chinese would agree not to cross south of the 38th Parallel, MacArthur felt the United Nations should accept an armistice. The conditions of the armistice should preclude movement of North Korean forces, as well as of Chinese, below the parallel; North Korean guerrillas should withdraw into their own territory; the Eighth Army should remain in positions covering the Seoul-Inch'on area, while X Corps pulled back to Pusan; and a United Nations commission should supervise the implementation of armistice terms. He viewed these as the best arrangements that could be made, unless the United Nations should decide to act under the second postulate. He reiterated a firm belief that the Chinese Nationalists should send troops to Korea without delay and that other powers in the United Nations should increase their contingents to a total U.N. strength of at least 75,000. He concluded by telling General Collins that unless substantial reinforcements were sent quickly to his command, the United Nations Command should pull out of Korea. 
General MacArthur indeed felt that he was being forced to fight the Chinese with his hands tied. His resentment displayed during talks with General Collins had already welled over into public channels, giving rise to official concern and laying the groundwork for later controversy. Shortly before his 6 December meeting with Collins, MacArthur in an interview with the editors of U.S. News and World Report had severely criticized the restrictions placed upon his command. He called the continuing prohibition against hot pursuit and bombing Chinese bases in Manchuria "an enormous handicap, without precedent in Military History." 
He also had sent a message to Hugh Baillie, president of United Press, in which he again criticized the national policies under which he was operating. Disturbed by MacArthur's actions, President Truman on 5 December ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to inform all unified commanders that any public statement concerning foreign policy should be cleared with the Department of Defense before issuance. He aimed this action directly at MacArthur.  The
 (1) Ibid. (2) Memo, CofS FEC for Gen. Collins, 4 Dec. 50, GHQ, UNC Comd Rpt, Dec. 50, Annex 4, Part III, "I" 19433.
 U5. News and World Report (December 8, 1950), pp. 16-22.
 (1) New York Times, December 2, 1950. (2) Rad, W 98310, DA to CINCFE, 8 Dec. 50. (1) and (2) are reproduced in MacArthur Hearings, pp. 3532-35. (3) The President later charged that MacArthur's repeated statements had led many into the impression that the United States had changed its policy. This the President would not allow. Therefore on 5 December he issued an order to all government agencies that until they received further written notice from him all speeches, press releases, or other public statements concerning foreign policy would be cleared by the Department of State before issuance. In a second such notice he admonished all officials overseas, including military commanders, to use caution in their public statements, to clear all but routine statements with their departments, and to engage in no direct communication on military or foreign policy matters with newspapers, magazines, or other publicity media in the United States. See Truman, Memoirs, II, 383.
effect of these instructions became apparent almost immediately when MacArthur on 9 December submitted for approval by the Department of Defense a communiqué which he proposed to release to the press. MacArthur stated that his forces had successfully completed tactical withdrawals and were now waiting for "political decisions and policies demanded by the entry of Communist China into the war." He continued, "The suggestion widely broadcast that the command has suffered a rout or debacle is pure nonsense." He charged that "Advance notice of the Chinese decision to attack was a matter for political intelligence which failed.... Field intelligence was so handicapped that once the decision to commit was made, this new enemy could move forward . . . without fear of detection." 
The Joint Chiefs of Staff took exception and replied in a chiding vein that the proposed release did not conform to the President's instructions and that in the future he should confine such communiques to completed phases of military operations. "Discussion of foreign and military policy referenced to press comments and comments relative to political or domestic matters should not be included in military communiques issued in the field," they pointed out. 
Collins, upon his return to Washington, told the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "If the United Nations decision is not to continue an all out attack in Korea and if the Chinese Communists continue to attack, MacArthur should be directed to take the necessary steps to prevent the destruction of his forces pending final evacuation from Korea." 
No one was more aware of the need for wise decisions than was the President, who now had to make them. The military collapse in Korea had effectively erased any illusion that the current national policies would continue to serve national interests. The crises evolving from the military failure in Korea and the even more ominous catastrophe of open and unrestrained military action by the Chinese had shocked Washington as well as Tokyo. But this was not the time for hasty judgments. In the tinder-dry international atmosphere the wrong decision could fan the brush fire in Korea into a flaming worldwide holocaust. Since a bad decision would be worse than no decision at all, the President and his advisers moved slowly and with great thoroughness and caution in their search for the right answers.
President Truman first learned of the Chinese assault early on 28 November when General Bradley gave him MacArthur's first reports of the crushing blows being dealt his forces. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, already alerted by the increasing resistance to the Eighth Army's advance, had been watching the situation closely all during the preceding day. President Truman called immediately
 Rad, C 50736, CINCFE to DA, 8 Dec. 50.
 Rad, JCS 98410, JCS to CINCFE, 9 Dec. 50.
 Memo, Collins for JCS, 8 Dec. 50.
for a meeting of the National Security Council. 
General Bradley told the council that the Joint Chiefs of Staff considered the new turn in Korea to be very serious but not so devastating as newspaper reports indicated. He stressed the dangers of MacArthur's command being attacked from Manchurian airfields, but advised against authorizing MacArthur to bomb those airfields.
Secretary of Defense Marshall recommended in strongest terms that neither the United States nor the United Nations become involved in a general war with China. He was joined in this view by all the service secretaries and by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Reflecting the emphasis which U.S. military planners were placing on the defense of western Europe, General Bradley warned that if the United States allowed itself to become embroiled in an all-out fight with China it would not be able to continue the build-up of forces in Europe. General Marshall added that it was essential for the United States, in dealing with this new and very serious aggression, to keep strictly within the framework of the United Nations, regardless of the difficulties which might arise.
The council was in general agreement that the Chinese intervention made it extremely urgent for the United States to build up its military forces and to enlarge its efforts to procure both men and materials. The President also agreed with this view and with the necessity for sending to Congress a supplementary budget to take care of the increased costs of greater military readiness.
The Secretary of State told the council that the Chinese attack on U.N. forces had moved the United States much closer to general war. Always to be kept in mind in approaching the Korean problem, he stressed, was that the real antagonist, the power behind the scene in Korea and elsewhere, was Russia. Therefore, any action that President Truman might eventually take must be taken with full knowledge that a war with Russia could be the result. If, for example, the United States successfully bombed Chinese airfields in Manchuria, the President believed that Russia would have cheerfully entered the fight. 
The foreign policy of the United States was, and had been for the past three years, predicated on containing the USSR within its 1947 limits. Now, if the United States took action in or against Chinese territory and entered the USSR's perimeter of special influence and interest, it would risk a war it might not win. Acheson believed that there were a number of ways in which the United States could damage the Chinese without going to war with them, although he did not enumerate these means. But he had concluded that it would be best for the United States to find some way to end the fighting in Korea.
Over the next several days, President Truman held more meetings with his top advisers and with Congressional leaders but made no decisions on courses of action. MacArthur, in his call for political decisions, had not explained what he meant by the term. But certainly new
 (1) Truman, Memoirs, II, 385-87. (2) The following section is based, in addition to specific citation, on an interview by the author with Mr. Truman at Independence, Missouri, in June 1961.
 Truman, Memoirs, II, 387-88.
national policies must now be established with regard to such questions as whether to retaliate against China and whether to attempt to negotiate a cease-fire. Vital in answering these questions was the determination of USSR intentions, of the price which the United States could afford to pay for a cease-fire, of the effects of voluntary withdrawal from Korea, and of the effect of all these matters upon America's allies, particularly those of very possibility of increased and more western Europe. 
Although General MacArthur had not yet expressed strong public views on the subject, his obvious opinion that the United States should strike back at China, particularly manifest in his readiness to attack the Yalu installations in early November, had aroused the nations allied with the United States in NATO. NATO had existed more than a year and a half, but its military forces were still in the planning stages. The forces of the member nations in western Europe were at the time few in number, poorly equipped, badly trained, and inadequately supported. They would be virtually defenseless against the Soviet Union, or even some of its satellite nations. Without American aid, in event of an attack from the east, the nations of western Europe could anticipate much the same fate that had befallen South Korea in the first days of the Korean War. These nations, particularly England, France, and the Benelux countries, had therefore welcomed the Presidential decision to oppose the North Korean venture with armed force. Until then there had been real doubt among these nations that the United States would actually fulfill its NATO obligation should one of them be attacked.  These doubts had been largely removed by the President's action in June.
But the extension of the Korean War through Chinese intervention and the
very possibility of increased and more drastic action by the United States, brought another fear that if the United States became involved in a war with Communist China, American commitments to NATO would, through sheer necessity, go by the board. China then might have little difficulty in persuading Russia to move into western Europe; and without U.S. resistance to this aggression, Russia could take all of Europe at little cost. 
 Like so many other decisions of the Korean War, the decision to evacuate Korea defied classification as either political or military. Ostensibly military, the decision nevertheless held profound political implications such as its effect on the South Koreans, the Japanese, the Formosans, and U.S. allies in other areas of the world.
 Article 5 of the Charter of the North Atlantic Treaty stated, "The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all; and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self defense, recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area."
 Sentiment in the NATO nations was influenced measurably by exaggerated speculation in the foreign press. President Truman was aware that foreign newspapers were speculating openly about the American reaction, quoting some of the more hawkish senators and talking about General MacArthur's ill-concealed disapproval of American policy. Some of these papers actually predicted that the United States would ignore the United Nations and plunge into a war with China. Most Europeans had heard only that there was opposition to NATO and to sending American troops to Europe. See Truman, Memoirs, II, 394-95.
The NATO nations, people and leaders alike, distrusted General MacArthur's strategic judgment. They feared that his stature and influence might enable him to appeal so forcibly to the American people for more drastic military action as to override the more temperate approaches to the Chinese which seemed to be favored by Washington.
At times, even Washington officials set NATO nerves on edge with public statements. On 30 November, at a press conference, President Truman remarked, no doubt extemporaneously, that the use of the atomic bomb was under active consideration, unintentionally implying to some oversensitive observers that its use would be left to the discretion of General MacArthur. Even though subsequently he attempted to subdue the storm of protest and consternation which followed by pointing out that only he could authorize use of the atomic bomb and that he had not given such authorization, he could not avoid the real issue that any decision to use the bomb would be a United States, not a United Nations, decision. 
The United Kingdom was predominant among the anxious advocates of the NATO viewpoint. The most respected leaders of that nation, including Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden, and of the Commonwealth of Nations, were seriously disturbed by rumors that MacArthur wanted stern measures against China. As a result of the mounting tension which, conceivably, could have shattered NATO and the western bloc of the United Nations as well, Clement Attlee, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, proposed conferences between himself and President Truman. These were quickly arranged and scheduled to begin on 4 December. 
In the interim, Attlee conferred with leaders of the other Commonwealth nations and with the French Premier and Foreign Minister. Apparently, he was also to represent the viewpoints of these nations in his talks with President Truman.
On the day before Attlee's arrival in Washington, and primarily in preparation for his visit, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, Presidential Adviser Averell Harriman, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff met to discuss the possible courses of action open to the United States. One matter of paramount concern was how to solve the current crisis, and at the same time preserve solidarity in the United Nations, especially with the British Commonwealth nations. At this meeting, the nation's top authorities reached general agreement that the military posture of the United States should be strengthened without delay. The Army staff was already making studies to determine what increase in production schedules and in Army forces and personnel should be made. 
With particular regard to Korea, one suggestion was that the United States should press the United Nations for a resolution calling for a cease-fire on the condition that the Eighth Army leave
 (1) New York Times, December 1, 1950. (2) Truman, Memoirs, II, 395-96.
 The President received a message from the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, on 30 November, asking to visit Washington and to discuss, face to face, the meaning of events in Korea and the possible courses of future action. See Truman, Memoirs, II, 393.
 Rad, WAR 97929, DA to CINCFE (Personal), for Collins from Haislip, 3 Dec. 50.
North Korea and pull back across the 38th Parallel. Any such resolution would obviously have to be passed before the Chinese pushed the Eighth Army across the parallel by force. There was also much concern over the price that the Chinese would demand for agreeing to a cease-fire.
Another point discussed was whether the United Nations forces, in the absence of a cease-fire, should evacuate as soon as they had withdrawn into beachheads or wait until the enemy forced them out. The conferees also examined the no less important question of whether the United States should attack Communist China by air and sea after the United Nations were forced out of Korea. No definite recommendations for the President as to courses of action evolved from this meeting. It was agreed that such recommendations must await the return of General Collins, then still in Korea, as well as the results of the conferences which were to begin next day between President Truman and Prime Minister Attlee.
The British Prime Minister was thought to be particularly disturbed by President Truman's remarks on possible use of the atomic bomb. The British position was that the atomic bomb should certainly not be used without consultation-and probably not without agreement-with them and perhaps other members of the United Nations; and they were strongly opposed to its use in China. 
Just before the arrival of Attlee, Department of State officials examined the reasons behind his unusual request for a conference with President Truman and Attlee's attitude on the Korean situation. The occasion for Mr. Attlee's visit, they concluded, was "the sudden change in the situation in Korea." 
The growing British concern over the U.S. foreign and defense policies stemmed in part from what Department of State officials described as "the deterioration in the position of the West vis-à-vis the Soviet Union." The British did not entirely trust the discretion of the United States. Their concern was heightened by uncertainty as to the consequences of some United States policies and actions. This concern was not peculiar to the British but was known to be shared by other western powers. 
The Department of State forecast that Attlee would express to Truman the genuine fear shared by all British peoples that the United States was drifting toward a third world war and that even though an open war with Russia might be avoided, the United States would become more completely embroiled in an exhausting war with Communist China. The two particularly sensitive points in this connection were the immediate situ-
52 (1) Rad, DA (Haislip) to CINCFE (Collins via Larsen), unnumbered, 3 Dec. 50. (2) The reaction of the Chinese, as described by the Indian Ambassador, to the statement of President Truman seems to have been opportunistic. "It was the next morning (the 1t of December)," Pannikar recalls, "that Truman announced that he was thinking of using the atom bomb in Korea. But the Chinese seemed totally unmoved by this threat.... The propaganda against American aggression was stepped up. The 'Aid Korea to resist America' campaign was made the slogan for increased production, greater national integration, and more rigid control over anti-national activities. One could not help feeling that Truman's threat came in very useful to the leaders of the revolution to enable them to keep up the tempo of their activities." See Pannikar, In Two Chinas: Memoirs of a Diplomat, pp. 116-17.
 JCS 2176/l, 3 Dec. 50, Incl B.
ation facing U.N. forces in Korea and the U.S. policy on Formosa. 
The Department of State officials told the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
With respect to Korea there is profound concern that actions have been and may continue to be taken which unnecessarily aggravate the situation and bring us closer to war with China. Germane to this is the rather widespread British distrust of General MacArthur and the fear of political decisions he may make based on military necessity. Bearing on this is the British belief in the buffer area and their stand against attacks across the Yalu. Also involved is the fear of the effect on Asiatics of use of the Atomic Bomb or even open consideration of its use. 
The Joint Chiefs of Staff were in complete agreement with that portion of the Department of State's conclusion which stated:
We believe that the British are very sincere in their concern over the above matters and that they should be handled with full understanding and appreciation of that fact. Although we approach them with understanding and sympathy and meet them wherever reasonably possible, we should not give them cause to think that we are fully satisfied with British actions and policies. In particular, the occasion should be taken to emphasize to them the importance and urgency of getting along with the defense effort. They are inclined sometimes to regard the world situation as primarily a United States-Soviet problem and therefore to keep the sights for their own efforts too low. 
Insofar as the specifics of action in Korea were concerned, the Department of State recommended to the President, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff concurred, that he should make no commitment to Attlee restricting the freedom of action of the United States on use of the atomic bomb. The President should tell Attlee that the United States did not desire to use the atomic bomb and stress that the United States fully realized the dire consequences of using the bomb. He should also tell the British Prime Minister that the United States desired and expected to move in step with the British in meeting the current crisis. 
The Department of State proposed that President Truman should discuss with the British Prime Minister two possible courses of action in Korea. The first of these involved a withdrawal of U.N. forces to a line on the 38th Parallel in conjunction with a possible cease-fire agreement. The second course was the evacuation of all of Korea. In the event of military necessity, the Department of State held, the X Corps should withdraw from Korea to Japan and an attempt should be made to stabilize the situation by a political cease-fire agreement, with the line of demarcation between forces along the 38th Parallel. The Department of State wanted President Truman to tell Attlee that MacArthur intended to assemble his forces into three beachheads: in the Seoul-Inch'on area, at Hamhung, and at Pusan. The X Corps could be evacuated to Japan in any way that proved militarily practicable. 
The proposal held:
Before the Chinese Communists have reached the 38th Parallel in strength we should try to establish a cease-fire on the basis of the 38th Parallel with the armies
 (1) Ibid. (2) Memo for Secy. Defense, 4 Dec. 50, sub: Use of Atomic Bomb.
 JCS 2176/1, 3 Dec. 50, Incl B.
separated by a demilitarized zone. The principal purpose of this effort would be to deny success to aggression and to consolidate an overwhelming majority of the United Nations members behind the cease-fire effort. Arrangements for a cease-fire on the basis of the 38th Parallel would not, however, be conditioned on agreement to other issues, such as Formosa and the seating of Communist China in the United Nations.
During the cease-fire effort (apparently before a cease-fire had been agreed to by both parties), the United Nations would retire on the Seoul-Inch'on area, but would not begin any evacuation until the results of the cease-fire were determined. 
While the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their planning staff agreed that a cease-fire might be militarily advantageous for the United Nations Command under conditions then obtaining, they wanted to be sure of two things. First, the considerations offered the Chinese in exchange for a cease-fire agreement must not be too great, and, secondly, the United Nations commander must not be operationally restricted. Such a plan as the Department of State proposed, dictating not only the area into which the Eighth Army would retire but also restricting the conditions under which MacArthur might evacuate his troops, was unacceptable. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, in revising the Department of State proposals, cut out any reference to the evacuation of the X Corps. "Arrangements for this cease-fire," the Joint Chiefs of Staff maintained, "must not impose conditions which would jeopardize the safety of United Nations forces." In other words, MacArthur must be free to withdraw at any time. They also objected to the Department of State provision that would have compelled the Eighth Army to withdraw on the Seoul-Inch'on area. 
In the Department of State's recommendation to President Truman regarding the possible necessity of evacuating Korea was the explanation that the Department's position did ". . . not exclude the possibility of some military action which would harass the Chinese pending their acceptance of a United Nations settlement for Korea and would not exclude any efforts which could be made to stimulate anti-Communist resistance within China itself, including the exploitation of Nationalist capabilities." 
It is significant, in view of the early December date, that the Joint Chiefs of Staff seized upon this discreetly worded hint of retaliatory measures and reworded it, not only in stronger terms, but by adding several possible retaliatory measures later proposed by General MacArthur, to include a naval blockade of China and bombing of Chinese lines of communication outside of Korea. 
President Truman and Prime Minister Attlee met at the White House on 4 December and on each day thereafter for five days. Also present at these meetings were Secretary of Defense Marshall and Secretary of State Acheson as well as the British Ambassador to the United States. Discussion was frank, open, and occa-
 (1) JCS 1776/167, with Incls, 3-4 Dec. 50. (2) Memo, ACofS G-3 for CofS USA, 3 Dec. 50, sub: (JCS 1776/7) Korea. Both in G-3, DA file 091 Korea, Case 129.
sionally heated, but ended in agreement on most major issues. 
It was very clear that the British, and by inference the other NATO nations, while they had no intention of deserting the United States, could not reconcile themselves to what they believed to be its unrealistic and extremely dangerous policy in relation to Red China. Attlee took the position at first that there was no choice under current conditions but to negotiate with the Chinese Communists, with such negotiations most certainly extending beyond Korea and amounting to the surrender of Formosa to the Communists, a grant of United Nations status to the Chinese Communists, and the recognition of their government by the United States as the price for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of Chinese troops from the Korean peninsula. 
President Truman emphasized that it was not the American policy to desert its friends when the going got rough. He pointed out that the United States did not make distinctions between little aggressions and big aggressions. President Truman's position coincided with that of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he told Attlee that if a cease-fire were proposed the United States would accept it, but the United States would pay nothing for it. If a cease-fire were not accepted, or if it were accepted and the Chinese later started fighting again, the United States would fight as hard as it could.
Acheson agreed that an immediate cease-fire in Korea would be of advantage to the United Nations. But to buy that cease-fire in the fashion suggested would be unacceptable to the United States. The American leaders were opposed to Attlee's suggestions on the ground that they would actually reward China for her acts of aggression and would seriously weaken the position of the United States in the Far East, politically as well as militarily. As for U.S. retaliation against China, no promises were made by American authorities that they would not take more active measures such as blockade or bombardment of the mainland; but Attlee was assured that few of the President's key advisers were urging this course and that, as a basic principle of its policy, the United States was determined to avoid any enlargement of the conflict if at all possible.
Following their meeting on 7 December, Attlee and President Truman agreed that there would be no general voluntary evacuation of Korea at that time. General Collins, having returned from Korea, on 9 December briefed the two heads of government on the military situation. After the briefing he told reporters that MacArthur's forces would be able to take care of themselves without further serious losses. 
After more discussions between the two heads of state, certain agreements were reached. Among these was agreement that neither the United States nor the United Kingdom would object to
 (1) This resume of the discussions is based on messages sent to General MacArthur by the Department of State informing him of the progress: Rad, CM-IN 18584, State to SCAP, 8 Dec. 50; Rad, CM-IN 19784, State to SCAP, 12 Dec. 50. (2) Truman, in his memoirs, gives a good deal of information on the trend of these talks and of his private conversations with Attlee. See Truman, Memoirs, II, 396-413 and Acheson, Present at the Creation, pp. 480-85.
 Rad, CM-IN 18584, State to SCAP, 8 Dec. 50.
 New York Times, December 7, 1950 and December 9, 1950.
any appeal by Asiatic nations to the Chinese Communists for a cease-fire. It was agreed that the objective of both nations was to achieve a free and united Korea. A cease-fire and peaceful solution of the current conflict with the Chinese Communists was desirable in the immediate future if it could be secured on honorable terms. There was no disagreement on the matter of keeping Communist China out of the United Nations, and there was agreement that the Chinese Communists would not be granted any payment for a peaceful solution in Korea, such as Formosa or Indochina. If no solution could be obtained, American and British troops would fight in Korea until they were forced out. 
 Rad, CM-IN 19784, Secy. State to SCAP, 12 Dec. 50.