Daniel L. Davis
Bloody Ridge: The Horrific Korean War Battle You Never Heard About
The Korean War had been raging for more than a year. The U.S. Forces had almost been routed off the peninsula at Pusan, driven the North Koreans to the brink of defeat, then been beaten back by a flood of Chinese “volunteers.” Seoul had suffered through five battles, changing hands four times. Both sides recognized the war could not be won on the battlefield and began seeking an armistice. The bloodiest of the fighting, however, was yet to come.
By the summer of 1951, it was becoming clear that the war was not going to be won by either side on the battlefield. North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung and South Korean leader Syngman Rhee both wanted to outright defeat the other and unify the peninsula by force.
The United States, however, was not willing to support Rhee because they had concluded the cost to defeat North Korea was prohibitively expensive. Moscow and Beijing likewise told Kim they would not support a new, major offensive to win the war. Both sides then began discussing ways to end the war.
After the last Chinese attempt to retake Seoul in April 1951, the communist forces had been driven back about 35 miles to the north, and the battle lines between the two armies stretched across the peninsula, roughly along the 38th parallel.
Both sides chose a similar strategy in trying to get the best terms possible during negotiations for the armistice: fight to possess the most defensible terrain along the 38th parallel and put as much pressure on the other side so as to extract concessions at the negotiating table. A series of three hills between the two armies north of Seoul provided such commanding terrain.
And both sides were willing to pay a high price to win the hills.