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Crossing the Parallel: The Decision and the Plan

The Tide Turns

Events dramatically justified General MacArthur's firm confidence in Operation CHROMITE. American Marines, backed by devastating naval and air bombardment, assaulted Inch'on on 15 September and readily defeated the weak, stunned North Korean defenders. (Map II) On hand to see for himself the fruition of his plans, General MacArthur sent a cheering report from the scene to the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "First phase landing successful with losses slight. Surprise apparently complete. All goes well and on schedule." By mid-day, Marines had seized Wolmi-do, the fortress island dominating Inch'on harbor. By nightfall, more than a third of Inch'on had fallen into their hands. Obviously enjoying his first taste of victory in Korea, the U.N. commander again proudly reported to Washington, "Our losses are light. The clockwork coordination and cooperation between the Services was noteworthy.... The command distinguished itself. The whole operation is proceeding on schedule." [1]

Operation CHROMITE stayed on schedule. In the wake of the Marines, the 7th Division landed and struck south toward Suwon. Kimp'o Airfield fell to the Marines on 19 September, and on the 20th General MacArthur could tell the Joint Chiefs of Staff that his forces were pounding at the gates of Seoul. [2] So far, American forces had suffered only light casualties, while the North Koreans had lost heavily. At Inch'on, supplies were being unloaded at the rate of 4,000 tons daily; and Kimp'o Airfield

[1] (1) Rad, 142215Z, CINCUNC to JCS, 15 Sep. 50. (2) Rad, C 63153 CINCUNC to CINCFE and JCS, 5 Sep. 50.

[2] The Joint Chiefs of Staff were disturbed by newspaper reports that they had opposed the Inch'on landing and had not fully supported General MacArthur, One such dispatch said, "MacArthur sold the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the Inchon landing despite their unanimous objections to such an ambitious undertaking.... Sources close to General MacArthur said both General Collins and Admiral Sherman were opposed to the landing at Inchon," The Joint Chiefs notified General MacArthur that they were issuing a statement refuting these press reports and, to a limited extent, giving their own side of the background story. See Rad, W 91763, DA to CINCFE, 17 Sep. 50.

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had swung into round-the-clock operation. When General Almond took command of all forces ashore in the Inch'on-Seoul area at 1800 on 21 September, he had almost 6,000 vehicles, 25,000 tons of equipment, and 50,000 troops. [3]

Fortunately, the success of MacArthur's plan did not depend upon an immediate juncture of the Eighth Army and X Corps. For, although MacArthur had ordered General Walker to attack out of the Pusan Perimeter beginning on the day after the X Corps landing, the North Koreans along the Naktong fought as fiercely on 16 September as they had on the 14th, and for nearly a week stood off all attempts by Eighth Army to punch through their defenses. The main body of the North Korean Army appeared unaware of the landing at Inch'on, approximately 180 air miles to its rear, and saw no reason to quit.

[3] (1) Rad, C 63187, CINCUNC to CINCFE and JCS, 20 Sep. 50. (2) Rad, X 10042 IN, CG X Corps to CINCFE, 23 Sep. 50. (3) Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, p. 519,

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Eighth Army intelligence officers had predicted this kind of enemy reaction, pointing out that a success at Inch'on would not necessarily relieve the pressure on Eighth Army, since the enemy could still move men and supplies against the perimeter over alternate routes along the east coast. [4] Indeed, the Eighth Army G-3 had pessimistically speculated that the most likely enemy reaction to the landing would be an all-out drive to push the Eighth Army into the sea.

General Walker, who had never been convinced that he could break out on schedule, blamed equipment shortages for the delay. He complained to General Hickey on 21 September that he was ". . . ready to break loose if it weren't for the physical trouble." He could not get his armor across the Naktong, he pointed out, and, referring to the greater logistic support given the X Corps, noted, "We have been bastard children lately, and as far as our engineering equipment is concerned we are in pretty bad shape." He seemed anxious that General MacArthur's staff should appreciate his plight, telling

[4] Intelligence Annex (10 Sep. 50), Eighth Army Opns Plan 10, 6 Sep. 50.

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Hickey, "I don't want you to think that I am dragging my heels, but I have a river across my whole front and the two bridges which I have don't make much." [5]

Walker's failure to keep to his schedule made General MacArthur somewhat doubtful that the Eighth Army would be able to break out of the Pusan Perimeter at all. He perhaps recalled earlier warnings by Eighth Army officers that Walker's divisions could not fight their way north even if the Inch'on landing were successful. At any rate, after three days of indecisive struggle along the perimeter, MacArthur ordered General Wright to implement the alternate plan for an amphibious landing at Kunsan, by using two of Walker's American divisions and one of his ROK divisions in the amphibious assault. Kunsan, on the west coast about one hundred air miles south of Inch'on, had originally been favored by General Collins as the primary objective area. A landing there now, MacArthur felt, would threaten the enemy's immediate rear and cause a

[5] Telecon, Gen. Walker with Gen. Hickey, 21 Sep. 50, in CofS GHQ, UNC files.

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North Korean collapse. When General Hickey discussed this plan with General Walker on 22 September, the latter objected to giving up any of his forces for a landing at Kunsan or anywhere else. But the argument ended there. For by this time, signs of an enemy collapse had appeared and MacArthur shelved the Kunsan plan. The signs proved correct and by the next day the North Korean Army, at last feeling the effects of its severed lines of communications and the presence of a formidable force in its rear, began a general withdrawal from the Pusan Perimeter. The withdrawal turned into a rout. During the next week, Eighth Army pursued the fleeing enemy. On the morning of 26 September, a task force from the 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, of Eighth Army met elements of the 31st Infantry, 7th Division, of X Corps near Osan to mark the juncture of the two forces. [6]

General Almond's corps meanwhile had enlarged its holdings in the Inch'on-Seoul area. By 26 September, the Marine-Army team had wrested control of the South Korean capital from the enemy and North Korean resistance in the sector was dwindling rapidly.

The 38th Parallel-Genesis of the Decision

Two decisions in the third week of September 195O were to rank among the most significant of the Korean War. The first of these, the decision to invade North Korea, stemmed in part from military expediency but the underlying issues were mainly political. The second decision, to use the X Corps in another amphibious operation, was completely military. General MacArthur figured to a large degree in the 38th Parallel decision and personally decided how the X Corps would be used. Both decisions were made as the recapture of Seoul became a certainty; and both were reached in the course of establishing a plan for operations in Korea that would best serve the interests of the United States and the rest of the free world. [7]

President Truman, of course, bore the full and final responsibility for choosing a course of action for Korea. But from his military and civilian advisers at several stations within the executive branch, he demanded and received the best advice available on all aspects of a problem, including the alternatives and consequences, before he took a stand. [8] Before the Korean War was three weeks old, and while American and ROK forces were falling back on Taejon, the President called on these advisers to tell him whether MacArthur should eventually send forces across the 38th Parallel. These advisers saw no need to test the legality of crossing the parallel. The basic authority under which the United

[6] (1) Opn Plan 100-C, JSPOG, GHQ, UNC files. (2) Rad, 063180, CINCUNC (Wright) to CINCFE (Hickey), 19 Sep. 50. (3) Memo, Gen. Hickey for Gen. Wright, 23 Sep. 50, JSPOG files. (4) For details of Eighth Army's breakout, see Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, Chapters XXVII and XXVIII,

[7] Except as otherwise indicated, this section is based on the 091 Korea file of G-3, Department of the Army, for 1950, Cases 14/14, 14/16; 14/17, 14/l9; 14/20, 14/22; 14/28, 14/30; 14/31, and 79/3.

[8] Symbolic of his approach to decision-making, a small sign resting on President Truman's White House desk carried the reminder, "The Buck Stops Here."

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States directed operations of the unified command in Korea lay in the U.N. Security Council's resolution of 7 July 1950; and within this resolution the United States had been called upon to direct United Nations forces so as "to assist the Republic of Korea in defending itself against armed attack and thus to restore international peace and security in the area." The United Nations' call for the restoration of peace and security in the area, was generally considered sufficient legal basis to enter North Korea.

The main concern was whether crossing the parallel would provoke an attack by the neighboring Chinese Communists or by Russia. Indeed, from the time of the President's first call for recommendations through the period of preparation for the Inch'on landing, American officials sought out the best ways to achieve military and political objectives without causing World War III. They tried, in particular, to determine a long-range policy toward Korea that would strengthen the United States' position in relation to that of the USSR. For they assumed that the USSR was America's chief antagonist in Korea and elsewhere, and that if the course chosen by the United States came too directly into conflict with Russian aims and interests, the United States might have to fight to hold that course.

Those authorities nearest the President concluded by 1 September 1950 that the United States was in no position to commit itself finally to any single course of action. There were too many unknowns, namely, what Russia or China might do and whether the United States could count on the United Nations, even on those members considered to be allies, to back up an American policy that might bring on a general war.

In searching for some flexible stand for the United States to take, Truman's top advisers became convinced that any crossing of the 38th Parallel by General MacArthur would evoke certain reactions from Russia. The Russians might encourage the Chinese to occupy North Korea, even to commit troops into battle in the hope of fomenting war between the United States and China. In the latter event, the American officials believed, U.N. forces should continue to fight as long as there was a reasonable chance of successfully resisting the Chinese; General MacArthur should be authorized to take appropriate air and naval action against Communist China; and the United States should take the matter to the U.N. Security Council in order to have the Chinese condemned as aggressors.

Or, as MacArthur's forces approached the parallel, the USSR itself could reoccupy North Korea and trump up an arrangement with the North Korean Government whereby the Russians would pledge to defend North Korean territory. If this proved the case, that is, if major Russians units entered the fighting either openly or covertly anywhere in Korea, the top advisory officials felt that General MacArthur should go on the defensive, make no move that would aggravate the situation, and report to Washington. Exactly what MacArthur would be told once he had reported to Washington was not yet decided. But it was definite that the United States did not want its resources tied up in Korea, an area regarded as of

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little strategic importance, if general war came.

In line with their own advice against commitment to any single course of action, these advisory officials recognized that certain military conditions could arise, such as an opportunity to destroy the North Korean Army completely which would, from a tactical point of view, justify military operations north of the parallel. But it the President, who alone had the authority and sufficient knowledge of all factors to make a decision on the crossing, did authorize a move above the parallel, there should be a clear understanding that no U N. force would cross the northern boundary of Korea into Manchuria or the USSR, and that as a matter of policy only Korean units should operate in the border region Further, if either Russian or Chinese forces had already entered Korea or had announced that they intended to enter, no matter how well the tactical situation might otherwise favor crossing the parallel at the time, General MacArthur should refrain from moving above the line. This did not mean, however, that he should discontinue air and naval operations in North Korea.

Truman's top advisers did not consider crossing the parallel to be a necessary ingredient of victory. They believed that the military situation eventually would be stabilized along the parallel and that the United Nations, instead of crossing, could offer surrender terms to the North Koreans as soon as a U. N. victory seemed assured.

The opinions of President Truman's closest advisers did not find favor among the Joint Chiefs of Staff or with General MacArthur. MacArthur, since mid-July, when he had received the United Nations 7 July resolution as a guide but no detailed instructions, held a directly opposing view "I intend to destroy and not to drive back the North Korean forces," he told Generals Collins and Vandenberg at the time, adding that "I may need to occupy all of North Korea." [9] MacArthur continued to favor crossing the parallel even after his G-2, General Willoughby, reported on 31 August that ". . . sources have reported troop movements from Central China to Manchuria for sometime which suggest movements preliminary to entering the Korean theater." Willoughby placed the number of regular Chinese troops in Manchuria at about 246,000 men, organized into nine armies totaling thirty-seven divisions. Eighty thousand men were reported assembling near An-tung, just across the Yalu from Korea. [10]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff disagreed with the view that the Korean fighting would be stabilized along the 38th Parallel. While quite aware of the possibility of Russian or Chinese entry into the conflict, they did not believe that MacArthur should be held back from crossing the parallel if he wished to do so for tactical reasons. Any views and proposals to the contrary, the military chiefs told Secretary of Defense Johnson on 7 September, were unrealistic. They agreed with General MacArthur that the initial objective to be obtained was the destruction of North Korean forces. "We believe," they stated:

[9] Memo, Col. Dickson for Gen. Bolte, 15 Jul. 50, sub: Rpt of Trip to FEC, 10-15 Jul. 50, in G-3, DA file 338 Pac, case 3.

[10] DIS, GHQ, FEC, No. 2913, 31 Aug. 50, p. 1-d.

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     that after the strength of the North Korean forces has been broken, 

     which is anticipated will occur south of 38 degrees North, that 

     subsequently operations must take place both north and south of the 

     38th Parallel. Such operations should be conducted by South 

     Korean forces since it is assumed that the actions will be of a 

     guerrilla character. General MacArthur has plans for increasing 

     the strength of the South Korean forces so that they should be 

     adequate at the time to cope with this situation. [11] 

Touching next on the subject of the post-hostilities period, the Joint Chiefs of Staff informed the Secretary of Defense that they and General MacArthur agreed that the occupation by U.N. forces should be limited to the principal cities south of the 38th Parallel and should be terminated as soon as possible. Further, U.S. troops should be taken out of Korea as early as safe to do so. The Joint Chiefs of Staff also pointed out that General MacArthur and President Rhee had agreed that the Government of the Republic of Korea should be re-established in Seoul as soon at it could be done. Rhee was willing, upon re-entry into the capital, to grant a general amnesty to all except war criminals and to call for a general election to set up a single government for all of Korea.

The final policy proposal sent to President Truman on 9 September included the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Without making any changes, the President approved the proposal on 11 September.

In order that General MacArthur might have advance notice, the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 15 September sent him those provisions of the new national policy applicable to operations above the 38th Parallel and actions to be taken if Russia or Communist China intervened. The Joint Chiefs had not yet been told to work this new policy into a new directive for MacArthur, but were anticipating such instructions from the Secretary of Defense. General MacArthur had other things on his mind on the day he received this informative message (it was D-day for Operation CHROMITE), but he wanted to know more about the national policy on Korea. As soon as he could, he asked the Joint Chiefs to forward by courier the entire text of the approved policy paper. This the Joint Chiefs arranged by handing copies to an officer from the Far East Command who was returning after an official visit in Washington.

[11] Memo, JCS for Secy. Defense, 7 Sep. 50, sub: U.S. Courses of Action With Respect to Korea.

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As of 18 September, the Secretary of Defense had not yet told the Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare instructions for MacArthur based on the new policy. This inaction perhaps was occasioned in part by Secretary Johnson's resignation, which he had submitted on 12 September, and which President Truman had accepted and made effective as of 19 September. General of the Army George C. Marshall became the new Secretary of Defense on 21 September.

Meanwhile, hoping to lend impetus to the matter of new instructions to MacArthur, General Gruenther, Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, proposed to draft a directive at Army level for submission to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But the Joint Chiefs had anticipated Gruenther and had already worked out the new directive.

Ten days after American troops stormed Inch'on, the Joint Chiefs sent MacArthur's directive for future operations in Korea to Secretary Marshall. They told him that while they had dealt with military matters primarily, the implications of the directive affected other agencies of the United States Government; and they suggested that the Secretary obtain the concurrence of these other agencies. They had taken no action on aspects of the new national policy outside their purview, assuming that the responsible agencies would take care of these in directives of their own. The Joint Chiefs did ask, however, that they be allowed to comment from the military point of view on any directives prepared by other agencies.

Several days went by with no word on the directive and General Bolte became impatient. The reports from Korea, encouraging from the military viewpoint, were nevertheless disconcerting to the Army G-3, who knew that General MacArthur would soon reach the 38th Parallel and the limit of his current instructions. The advance information which had gone to MacArthur had made it plain that he would not cross the 38th Parallel without specific authority from the President. "In view of the rapidity with which military operations in Korea are approaching the 38th parallel," Bolte told the Chief of Staff on 27 September, "it is a matter of military urgency that the commander of the United Nations forces be given authority to cross this parallel to accomplish attainment of his military objective." [12] General Bolte was fearful that a delay in definite orders from Washington would cause U.N. forces to hesitate and break stride in their advance at the parallel thus enabling the North Korean Army to retreat in orderly fashion without being destroyed. He recommended that General Collins press the Secretary of Defense for approval of MacArthur's crossing of the parallel.

Actually, Secretary Marshall had been waiting for State Department concurrence in the directive before showing it to President Truman. The State Department approved the draft but added a paragraph of instructions on the return of Seoul to the Republic of Korea Government. Before General Bolte's objections had reached the Chief of

[12] Memo, Gen. Bolte for CofS, 27 Sep. 50, sub: U.S. Course of Action in Korea, with note by Gen. Gruenther on original.

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Staff, the President had approved the directive. [13]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent the directive to General MacArthur on 27 September, stipulating that it was being furnished to provide him with "amplifying instructions as to further military actions to be taken by you in Korea." They warned him, "These instructions, however, cannot be considered to be final since they may require modification in accordance with developments." Obviously wary of what the Russians or Chinese might do, they ordered MacArthur "to make special efforts to determine whether there is a Chinese Communist or Soviet threat to the attainment of your objective, which will be reported to the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a matter of urgency." [14]

For the first time MacArthur had a written directive to destroy North Korean forces.

     Your military objective is the destruction of the North Korean 

     Armed Forces. In attaining this objective you are authorized to 

     conduct military operations, including amphibious and airborne 

     landings or ground operations north of the 38th Parallel in Korea, 

     provided that at the time of such operation there has been no entry 

     into North Korea by major Soviet or Chinese Communist Forces, no 

     announcement of intended entry, nor a threat to counter our 

     operations militarily in North Korea. Under no circumstances, 

     however, will your forces cross the Manchurian or USSR borders of 

     Korea and, as a matter of policy, no non-Korean Ground Forces will 

     be used in the northeast provinces bordering the Soviet Union or in 

     the area along the Manchurian border. Furthermore, support of your 

     operations north or south of the 38th Parallel will not include Air 

     or Naval action against Manchuria or against USSR territory.

     In the event of the open or covert employment of major Soviet units 

     south of the 38th Parallel, you will assume the defense, make no 

     move to aggravate the situation and report to Washington. You 

     should take the same action in the event your forces are operating 

     north of the 38th Parallel, and major Soviet units are openly 

     employed. You will not discontinue Air and Naval operations north 

     of the 38th Parallel merely because the presence of Soviet or 

     Chinese Communist troops is detected in a target area, but if the 

     Soviet Union or Chinese Communists should announce in advance their 

     intention to reoccupy North Korea and give warning, either 

     explicitly or implicitly, that their forces should not be attacked, 

     you should refer the matter immediately to Washington.

     In the event of the open or covert employment of major Chinese 

     Communist units south of the 38th Parallel, you should continue the 

     action as long as action by your forces offers a reasonable chance 

     of successful resistance. In the event of an attempt to employ 

     small Soviet or Chinese Communist units covertly south of the 38th 

     Parallel, you should continue the action.

MacArthur was directed to use all information media at his command to turn "the inevitable bitterness and resentment of the war-victimized Korean people" away from the United Nations and to direct it toward the Communists, Korean and Russian, and, "depending on the role they play," the Chinese Communists.

[13] The genesis of this directive is not clear in President Truman's memoirs. He states that he approved a statement of national policy on 11 September and that the JCS sent a "directive" based on this policy to MacArthur on 15 September. The JCS sent only the substance of the policy statement to MacArthur at that time, and did not send him the actual directive until 27 September. See Truman Memoirs, II, 59-60.

[14] Rad, JCS 92801, JCS (Personal) for MacArthur, 27 Sep. 50. Because of its importance this directive will be quoted at length.

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     When organized armed resistance by North Korean forces has been 

     brought substantially to an end, you should direct the ROK forces to 

     take the lead in disarming remaining North Korean units and 

     enforcing the terms of surrender. Guerrilla activities should be 

     dealt with primarily by the forces of the Republic of Korea, with 

     minimum participation by United Nations contingents.

     Circumstances obtaining at the time will determine the character of 

     and necessity for occupation of North Korea. Your plans for such 

     occupation will be forwarded for approval to the Joint Chiefs of 

     Staff. You will also submit your plan for future operations north 

     of the 38th Parallel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for approval. 

MacArthur was advised that the United States was formulating instructions regarding "Armistice terms to be offered by you to the North Koreans in the event of sudden collapse of North Korean forces and Course of Action to be followed and activities to be undertaken during the post-hostilities period." The directive then continued:

     As soon as the military situation permits, you should facilitate 

     the restoration of the Government of the Republic of Korea with its 

     capital in Seoul. Although the Government of the Republic of Korea 

     has been generally recognized (except by the Soviet bloc) as the 

     only legal government in Korea, its sovereignty north of the 38th 

     Parallel has not been generally recognized. The Republic of Korea 

     and its Armed Forces should be expected to cooperate in such 

     military operations and military occupation as are conducted by 

     United Nations forces north of the 38th Parallel, but political  

     questions such as the formal extension of sovereignty over North 

     Korea should await action by the United Nations to complete the 

     unification of the country. 

According to news reports appearing about the time the new directive reached MacArthur, General Walker had informed reporters that his forces were going to halt along the 38th Parallel for regrouping and, ostensibly, to await permission to cross. These reports, while unconfirmed, disturbed the Secretary of Defense to such an extent that he sent General MacArthur a personal message: "Announcement . . . may precipitate embarrassment in the United Nations where evident desire is not to be confronted with the necessity of a vote on passage of the 38th parallel." Secretary Marshall left no doubt, however, as to how he himself felt about the crossing when he said, "We want you to feel unhampered tactically and strategically to proceed north of the 38th parallel." [15]

General MacArthur had received no confirmation that General Walker had made a statement of this type and doubted that he had done so. But he took the precaution of warning Walker to make no comment on the 38th Parallel to anyone. "The matter is of such delicacy," he told the Eighth Army commander, "that all reference thereto will be made either from GHQ or direct from Washington." And in answer to the Secretary of Defense MacArthur replied that he had cautioned Walker against "involvement connected with nomenclature." "Unless and until the enemy capitulates," General MacArthur

[15] (1) Rad, JCS 92895, Secy. Defense (Personal) to MacArthur, 29 Sep. 50. (2) The President had been advised on 1 October that General MacArthur had informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he wished to issue a dramatic announcement when the 38th Parallel had been crossed. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had forbidden this, pointing out the unwisdom of such a statement. They had instructed him, instead, to go ahead with his operations but without calling special attention to the crossing of his forces into North Korea.

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told General Marshall, "I regard all of Korea open for our military operations." [16]

The ROK Government Returns to Seoul

General MacArthur, before landing at Inch'on, had conferred with President Rhee and agreed informally that the government of the republic would be reestablished in Seoul as early as possible. The two had also discussed arrangements for an election. In Washington, when the Joint Chiefs of Staff mentioned these dealings, great concern arose within the Department of State. That agency, then discussing means of a final settlement in Korea with other U.N. members, deplored any participation by the military commander in ROK governmental matters. Through the Secretary of Defense, the Department of State asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to call upon MacArthur for a more complete accounting of his diplomatic activities. H. Freeman Matthews of the Department of State told the Secretary of Defense he did not wish to use diplomatic channels for this inquiry, believing, ". . . it would be extremely awkward for Sebald [Political Adviser to SCAP] to inquire into this matter, and equally awkward for Ambassador Muccio." [17]

When, acting on the request, the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked General MacArthur for complete details of his plans for restoring President Rhee's authority in Korea, MacArthur protested any thought of meddling in the Department of State's affairs. "I do not know precisely to what your message refers," he said,

     but I have no plans whatsoever except scrupulously to implement the 

     directives which I have received. I plan to return President Rhee, 

     his cabinet, senior members of the legislature, the United Nations 

     commission, and perhaps others of similar official category to 

     domicile in Seoul as soon as conditions there are sufficiently 

     stable to permit reasonable security. 

MacArthur pointed out that this involved no re-establishment of or change in government, since the ROK Government had never ceased to function and would merely resume control over its areas liberated from enemy control. [18]

Conditions in Seoul were not yet quite "sufficiently stable" for Rhee's return, for the X Corps had encountered exceptionally bitter resistance in and around the city. General Almond, under pressure from MacArthur, pushed his commanders to take the capital quickly. By 26 September, his troops had seized all key points within it, and the prize seemed almost within grasp. "On this basis," Almond said, "I advised General MacArthur that he might expect to enter Seoul on the 29th of September, that in my opinion the city would be perfectly safe to restore President Syngman Rhee to his rightful position at the Capital by that date." [19]

Almond also sent MacArthur a tenta-

[16] (1) Rad, C 65035, CINCFE to CG Eighth Army, 30 Sep. 50. (2) Rad, C 65034, CINCFE to DA for Secy. Defense, 30 Sep. 50.

[17] Ltr., Mr. H. Freeman Matthews, Deputy Undersecy. State, to Gen. Burns, OSD, 18 Sep. 50, in G-3, DA file 091 Korea, Case 14/26.

[18] (1) Memo, Gen. Bradley for Secy. Defense, 7 Sep. 50, sub: U.S. Courses of Action With Respect to Korea, (2) Ltr., Mr. Matthews to Gen. Burns, 18 Sep. 50. (3) Rad, JCS 92329, JCS to CINCFE, 22 Sep. 50. (4) Rad, C 64159, CINCFE to JCS, 23 Sep. 50.

[19] Ltr., Gen. Almond to Maj. James F. Schnabel, 8 Jul. 55.

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tive program for the liberation ceremonies. But MacArthur replied:

     Arrangements suggested by you are not in accordance with those 

     already set up by me. Following is the plan. Arrive Kimpo 0930. No

     honor guard or other ceremony there. Will proceed direct to capital 

     building for informal conference with you and General Walker before 

     arrival of Pusan party. Ceremony at 1200 hours. I will personally 

     conduct the proceedings without being introduced. There will be no 

     invocation or benediction necessary as the spiritual features are 

     embodied in my own address. I will commence ceremony by five minute 

     speech to be followed by speeches of similar duration by the 

     Chairman UN COK, American ambassador and President Rhee, and I will 

     conclude the proceedings. [20] 

General MacArthur arrived in Seoul on the 29th as scheduled. In his address he told President Rhee:

     In behalf of the United Nations I am happy to restore to you, Mr. 

     President, the seat of your Government, that from it you may better 

     fulfill your constitutional responsibility. It is my fervent hope 

     that a beneficent providence will give you and all of your public 

     officials the wisdom and strength to meet your perplexing problems 

     in a spirit of benevolence and justice, that from the travail of 

     the past there may emerge a new and hopeful dawn for the people of 


After leading his audience in the Lord's Prayer, MacArthur told Rhee, "... my officers and I will now resume our military duties and leave you and your Government to the discharge of civil responsibility." [21]

When MacArthur returned to Tokyo, he received protests from the Departments of State and Defense. Both departments noted with surprise and alarm that the American flag had been displayed with undue prominence over the ROK Capitol during the ceremonies, and complained that this placed too great an emphasis on the nature of the Korean War as a United States, rather than a United Nations, operation. [22] But congratulations also were in order. For, by the end of September, MacArthur had achieved the objectives of his landing, and the Eighth Army and the X Corps now controlled almost all of South Korea. Together, the two commands had routed the North Korean Army, had killed or captured huge numbers of its troops, and had destroyed or forced the abandonment of nearly all of its tanks, trucks, and artillery.

In congratulating MacArthur on 30 September, President Truman said, in part:

     No operations in military history can match either the delaying 

     action where you traded space for time in which to build up your 

     forces, or the brilliant maneuver which has now resulted in the 

     liberation of Seoul. I am particularly impressed by the splendid 

     cooperations of our Army, Navy, and Air Force and I wish you would 

     extend my thanks and congratulations to the commanders of these 

     services-Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker, Vice Admiral Charles T. Joy, 

     and Lt. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer. . . I salute you all, and say 

     to all, from all of us at home, 'Well and nobly done.' 

The Joint Chiefs of Staff joined in the congratulations, praising MacArthur and his men for a ". . . transition from defensive to offensive operations [that]

[20] Rad, C 64724, CINCUNC to CG X Corps, 28 Sep. 50.

[21] Text of message by General MacArthur on return of Government of Korea to Seoul, 29 September 1950, contained in MacArthur Hearings, page 3481.

[22] Rad, W 92972, DA to CINCFE, 30 Sep. 50.

Page 186

     was magnificently planned, timed and executed." [23]

General MacArthur passed along these compliments to all of his command, but they brought no particular joy to General Almond. For neither President Truman nor the Joint Chiefs of Staff had specifically credited the X Corps or Almond with any contribution to the success of the operations. Though the oversight presumably was unintentional, Almond complained that this absence of official recognition adversely affected the morale of his command. [24]

The X Corps and General Almond were to have another opportunity for recognition as a result of the 27 September directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to MacArthur calling for the destruction of the North Korean armed forces. During the recent offensive large numbers of North Koreans had managed to slip away, particularly through the eastern mountains, into their home territory.

In connection with the assigned objective to destroy the North Korean armed forces, the Joint Chiefs of Staff authorized MacArthur to broadcast a surrender ultimatum to the North Korean Government. The broadcast also was to instruct the North Korean

[23] Rad, ZC 18525, CINCFE to All Comdrs, 30 Sep. 50.

[24] (1) Ibid. (2) Telecon, Gen. Beiderlinden with Col. Harrison, 2020-2100, 1 Oct. 50, recorded in SGS GHQ, FEC 337 files, 1950.

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military leaders on how to handle prisoners of war, to assure them that on surrender their own forces would be fairly treated, to inform them that the Republic of Korea would be re-established with its capital in Seoul, and to point out that the question of the future of Korea was now before the United Nations. MacArthur, however, placed little confidence in a call to surrender. He doubted that the North Koreans would come to terms until he had beaten them so decisively as to leave them no alternatives but surrender or annihilation. He therefore concluded that he should try to crush the North Korean Army by a pursuit above the 38th Parallel. He, in fact, had made this decision before he received his newest directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but he had seen the gist of the new policy underlying the directive and therefore was able to judge the latitude he would be allowed. [25]

New Operations Plans

Accordingly, on 26 September, MacArthur instructed General Wright and the JSPOG staff to plan another amphibious encirclement well above the 38th Parallel. The new landing was to be coordinated with a new overland attack. MacArthur wanted Wright to consider two conceptions of advance into North Korea. The first of these would send the Eighth Army in a main effort along the west coast in conjunction with an amphibious landing at Chinnamp'o or elsewhere. MacArthur's other idea provided for an overland attack to the east coast by the Eighth Army and a simultaneous amphibious landing at Wonsan, a city of some 150,000, also on the east coast. [26] The plan eventually used included features of both concepts.

General Wright furnished the hybrid plan, actually an up-to-date version of an alternate concept prepared earlier for Operation CHROMITE, on 27 September. [27] By this plan, the Eighth Army would make the main effort in the west to seize the North Korean capital, P'yongyang, and the X Corps would make an amphibious assault landing at Wonsan. Wright told General MacArthur that the amphibious landing could be staged within ten days of the order to load out if shipping was assembled early enough. [28]

Wonsan was an excellent choice for an amphibious landing. Besides being sufficiently deep into North Korea, it was the principal port on the east coast; it

[25] Rad, JCS 92762, JCS to CINCFE, 27 Sep. 50.

[26] (1) Memo, Gen. Hickey for JSPOG (Gen. Wright), 26 Sep. 50, sub: Plans for Future Opns, JSPOG, GHQ, UNC files. (2) See also, Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, pp. 609-14 and 618-21.

[27] General Wright, who carried out General MacArthur's planning directives during this period and supervised their conversion into concrete plans, felt that the method chosen for entering North Korea was a natural outgrowth of MacArthur's preoccupation since July 1950 with the possibility of a double amphibious envelopment. "Even while we were under the pressure of the Inchon planning," Wright has written, ". . . I had JSPOG concurrently assembling the data for a Wonsan operation." It was strictly the paucity of men and materiel that had led MacArthur to settle for a single envelopment at Inch'on in the first place, according to Wright, And he had kept the Wonsan operation in mind, for the time when he would have enough strength to mount it. "I think it can be inferred that he had rather definite plans for Wonsan immediately following the success of the Inchon operation." See Ltr., Gen. Wright to Maj. Schnabel, 14 Jun. 55, copy in OCMH.

[28] (1) Memo, Gen. Wright for CofS GHQ, 26 Sep. 50, sub: Plans for Future Opns. (2) Interv, Col. Appleman with Gen. Wright, Feb. 54.

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was the eastern terminus of the easiest route across the narrow waist of the peninsula; and it was a road and rail communications center. Wonsan, in fact, was the principal port of entry for Russian supplies and military equipment received by sea from the Vladivostok area and a key point on the rail line from the same area. Moreover, from Wonsan a military force could move inland and west across the peninsula to P'yongyang or north to the Hamhung-Hungnam region, the most important industrial area in all Korea. [29]

General MacArthur readily accepted the plan tailored to his specifications. On 28 September he informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "If the North Korean Armed Forces do not surrender in accordance with my proclamation to be issued on 1 October 195O, dispositions will be made to accomplish the military objective of destroying them by entry into North Korea." He sketched his plan briefly. He would send the Eighth Army across the 38th Parallel through Kaesong and Sariwon to capture P'yongyang. Almond's X Corps would land amphibiously at Wonsan, thereafter "making juncture With Eighth Army." Presumably, this juncture would require the X Corps to attack west along the Wonsan-P'yongyang road. [30]

Mindful of the warning contained in his latest directive, General MacArthur promised Washington that he would use only ROK troops for operations above the line Ch'ungju-Yongwon-Hungnam. "Tentative date for the attack of Eighth Army," MacArthur reported, "will be not earlier than 15 October and not later than 30 October. You will be provided detailed plans later." Washington's concern over possible Chinese or Russian interference in the Korean fighting prompted General MacArthur to report also that there was no indication of "present entry into North Korea by major Soviet or Chinese Communist Forces." [31]

On the following day, just before he delivered his address in Seoul, MacArthur summoned General Walker, General Almond, Admiral Joy, and General Stratemeyer to a conference in a room on the second floor of the Capitol to tell them of his new plan. Although the Joint Chiefs of Staff had not yet approved the plan, he pointed out, approval was expected with no material change in the concept of the operation. He directed Almond to relinquish the Seoul area to Walker by 7 October, to plan on moving the 7th Division overland for embarkation at Pusan, and to embark corps troops and the 1st Marine Division from Inch'on. He tentatively set 20 October as the date for the Wonsan landing. [32]

The actual plan for destroying North Korean forces above the 38th Parallel was based on three assumptions. Two were correct, namely, that the bulk of the North Korean forces had been destroyed and that the United Nations Command would conduct operations

[29] (1) JANIS 75, ch. VIII (Korea-Cities and Towns), pp. 52-53. (2) GHQ FEC Terrain Study 6, North Korea, XIV, 26-27, and Map No. 760, Wonsan City Plan, Plate 12. (3) War Diary, X Corps, Oct. 50, Opns, pp. 18-19, and Diary CG X Corps, 24 Oct. 50.

[30] (1) Rad, C 64805, CINCFE to JCS, 28 Sep. 50. (2) See also Douglas MacArthur, Reminiscences (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), pp. 357 60.

[31] Rad, C 64805, CINCFE to JCS, 28 Sep. 50.

[32] Ltr., Gen. Almond to Maj. Schnabel, 8 Jul. 55.

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north of the 38th Parallel. The third, that there would be no outside interference, was less sound. The plan called on the forces of the Eighth Army and the X Corps to advance to and hold a line across Korea from Ch'ongju, through Yongwon, to Hamhung. The target date for the Eighth Army assault was set at twelve days after the Eighth Army had passed through the X Corps in the Inch'on-Seoul area. General Walker's ground attack might precede General Almond's amphibious assault by three to seven days. General Wright estimated that it would take six days to load the assault elements of the X Corps and four days to sail to Wonsan. [33]

Most of MacArthur's principal staff officers had assumed, before seeing the new plans, that the UNC commander intended to place the X Corps under General Walker after Seoul was returned to ROK control. MacArthur had created the X Corps specifically for the landing at Inch'on, had tailored it hurriedly, and had taken its key officers from his own staff. As the corps completed its mission in late September, it could logically be assumed that the combat elements of the corps would be assimilated by the Eighth Army and that the key officers would return to GHQ and their normal duties. Generals Hickey and Wright advised General MacArthur to follow this course; Maj. Gen. George L. Eberle, MacArthur's G-4, also strongly favored Walker's taking over the X Corps; and General Almond had always understood "that when the Inchon operation was completed that the X Corps troops would be absorbed by Eighth Army...." [34] Subsequently, General MacArthur could not believe that these officers really disagreed with his decision.

     To the contrary, the decision to retain a function of GHQ command 

     and coordination between the Eighth Army and the X Corps until

     such time as a juncture between the two forces had been effected 

     was, so far as I know, based upon the unanimous thinking of the 

     senior members of my staff. It but followed standard military 

     practice in the handling and control of widely separated forces 

     where lateral communications were difficult if not impossible. [35]

General Walker and the Eighth Army staff apparently felt very strongly that the X Corps should become part of the Eighth Army. Walker seems to have had two plans in mind for the possible employment of Almond's forces. In one of these, the X Corps would drive overland from Seoul to seize P'yongyang, and the rest of the Eighth Army, after coming up behind the X Corps, would then move laterally from P'yongyang to Wonsan on the east coast where it would join the ROK I Corps as the latter moved up the east coast. Such a maneuver might save a great deal of time, since the X Corps was already in position to advance on P'yongyang, and would establish a line across Korea at the narrow waist that could cut off a large number of North Koreans still trying to move northward through the central and eastern mountains. Meanwhile, the X Corps

[33] (1) Opn Plan 9-50, 29 Sep. 50, in JSPOG, GHQ, UNC files. (2) Memo, Gen. Hickey for JSPOG, Note 2, Gen. Wright to CofS, GHQ, UNC, 26 Sep. 50, sub: Plans for Future Opns.

[34] (1) Interv, Col. Appleman with Gen. Wright, Feb. 54. (2) Interv, Col. Appleman with Gen. Eberle, 12 Jan 54. (3) Ltr., Gen. Almond to Maj. Schnabel, 8 Jul. 55

[35] Ltr., Gen. MacArthur to Gen. Snedeker, USMC, G-3, HQ USMC, Washington, D.C., 24 Feb. 56, copy in OCMH.

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could move on above P'yongyang toward the Yalu River. The operations of both the X Corps and the Eighth Army could be coordinated under Walker's command; and both could be supplied from Pusan and Inch'on until the Wonsan area fell, at which time the forces operating in the east could be supplied by sea through Wonsan and Hungnam, farther north. [36]

General Walker's second plan was to approach Wonsan by a more direct, diagonal route. Assuming that the X Corps became a part of the Eighth Army, Walker would, in this instance, send a corps to the east coast objective through the Seoul-Ch'orwon-Wonsan corridor. [37]

If these were the plans Walker had in mind, he did not ask authority to carry out either of them. Apparently unaware of what Almond's plans were he contented himself with asking General MacArthur discreetly that he be let in on what was going on: "To facilitate advance planning for the approaching juncture with the X Corps, request this headquarters be kept informed of the plans and progress of this Corps to the greatest extent practicable. To date the X Corps operations plans have not been received." [38]

General MacArthur told Walker that as soon as X Corps had completed its CHROMITE missions, he would place it in GHQ Reserve in the Inch'on-Seoul area and that he, MacArthur, would direct its future operations. These operations would be revealed to the Eighth Army commander at an early date. [39] MacArthur, in fact, consulted neither Walker nor Almond on the next operation until the plan was almost in final form.

MacArthur's guidance to his planners was tantamount to an order that they recommend another amphibious operation by the X Corps. While MacArthur did not specify that the X Corps would make the amphibious landing, no other element of the United Nations Command could have carried out the maneuver. Too, General MacArthur had been most favorably impressed by Almond's performance at Inch'on and by the over-all results of his operations. Furthermore, he saw amphibious maneuver as the best means of slashing deep into North Korea, of cutting off escape routes for thousands of fleeing enemy soldiers, and of seizing a major port to support his troops. This last-named purpose was perhaps uppermost in his thinking. Ammunition, food, gasoline, and most other supplies that kept the UNC divisions fighting in late September came into Korea through two ports, Pusan and Inch'on. As troops moved farther north, Pusan's value dwindled, since the rail lines and roads over which materiel had to be brought from the port to the combat units had been severely damaged in the earlier heavy fighting. The other port, Inch'on, had a limited capacity for receiving vessels and could scarcely have supported, with its facilities, all U.N. forces involved in the fighting. [40]

[36] Interv, Col. Appleman with Maj. Gen. Leven C. Allen, 15 Dec. 53, copy in OCMH.

[37] Ltr., Wright to Schnabel, 14 Jun. 55.

[38] Rad, G 25090 KGO, CG Eighth Army to CINCFE, 26 Sep. 50.

[39] Rad, CX 64610, CINCFE to CG Eighth Army, 27 Sep. 50.

[40] General Wright points out in this connection. "Inchon was not capable of fully supplying Eighth Army and I think a logistical check will show that, temporary handicap to Eighth Army as it was, the movement out of X Corps enabled Eighth Army to provide itself with the logistic capability to perform its advance to the Pyongyang area." See Ltr., Wright to Schnabel, 14 Jun. 55.

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General Wright, in later analyzing the decision and the planning for entering North Korea, said,

     Both General MacArthur and General Walker realized that any

     successful campaign in North Korea would need the full operation of 

     an east coast port, preferably Wonsan or Hungnam. And I believe 

     that their staffs were in full agreement. The point at issue was 

     simply that of how to capture such a port and who should do it. 


Any campaign north of the P'yongyang-Wonsan corridor would certainly encounter a most difficult logistical problem. The northern Taebaek Range rose to rugged heights in the east central part of the peninsula, forming a nearly trackless mountain waste in the direction of the Manchurian border. Few roads or trails ran west and east. The principal lanes of travel were axial routes that followed the north and south trend of deep mountain valleys. The only reasonably good lateral road connected P'yongyang with Wonsan, where it joined the coastal road running northward to Hamhung and Hungnam. A rail line crossed the peninsula in the same general area between P'yongyang and Wonsan.

General MacArthur apparently decided that he could not supply both Eighth Army and X Corps through Pusan and Inch'on and over the crippled road and rail system in a campaign that he wanted to end quickly so that his forces would not have to fight during North Korea's severe winter weather. Weeks of concentrated work by all the available engineer troops would be needed before even the main lines of communication could be repaired as far as the 38th Parallel, not to mention the area to the north where the next phase of the campaign would be fought. But with the addition of the Wonsan port facilities, MacArthur reasoned, two separate forces, coordinated and supported from Japan, could operate in Korea without impairing the effectiveness of either. [42] Of the two methods by which he could seize Wonsan, amphibious encirclement took precedence over ground advance. The means were at hand in the X Corps, his directives specifically authorized amphibious operations in North Korea, and he apparently hoped the waterborne movement would be as successful as the one at Inch'on.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, having already established the principle that MacArthur could carry the fight into North Korea, did not quibble over MacArthur's methods. They passed the plan on to the Secretary of Defense for final approval, asking that he act with great speed since "certain ROK Army Forces may even now be crossing the 38th Parallel." President Truman and General Marshall agreed to the plan at once, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff told General MacArthur to carry out his plan on schedule. [43]

[41] Ltr., Wright to Schnabel, 14 Jun. 55.

[42] Interv, Col. Appleman with Gen. Ruffner, formerly CofS X Corps, 20 Aug. 51.

[43] (1) Rad, JCS 92975, JCS to CINCFE, 29 Sep. 50. (2) Memo, Gen. Bradley for Secy. Defense, 29 Sep. 50, sub: Future Korean Opns. (3) To later critics who noted that ROK troops captured Wonsan on 11 October before American units were even disembarked and that MacArthur had noticed this, General Wright pointed out that General MacArthur had indeed noticed and was impressed by the remarkable advance of ROK soldiers up the east coast of Korea where, by late September, they had driven almost to the parallel. But those same ROK troops had, only weeks before, shown themselves to be extremely vulnerable to pressure and counterattack. And there was every good chance that these troops would run into guerrilla forces, reinforced by retreating North Korean survivors, when they reached the mountainous area west of Kaesong and Kojo. Too, MacArthur did not feel that he had sufficient control of ROK troops. While technically under his command, their subordination to him was based merely on an understanding between himself and President Rhee of the Republic of Korea. This fact, according to General Wright, made their conduct under certain conditions problematical, and had to be considered in any planning for a major operation. In other words, any plan which hinged on ROK troops to any degree (i.e., to seize and hold Wonsan) was felt to be leaning on a weak reed. See Ltr., Gen. Wright to Maj. Schnabel, 14 Jun. 55.

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(Continuation of footnote 43, which is appended to bottom of page 191.)

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