US commanders heard rumors that Communist China was moving troops close to the Chinese side of the Yalu River with North Korea.
China’s leaders did not like the US army so close to China. They feared that the US might cross into Manchuria as the Japanese had before launching World War II.
Another factor to consider was that the US supported Communist China’s enemy, Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist Army (KMT) on Taiwan.
The Communists had fought a Civil War with the Nationalists from 1925 to 1949 before winning and America had provided the modern weapons the KMT had used.
American intelligence reports estimated that about 450 thousand Chinese troops might be in the hills north of the Yalu River.
As the UN army moved north, South Korea recovered from the destruction caused by the North Korean invasion.
After centuries of domination by the Mongols, Manchu, Chinese, Russians and Japanese, the South Koreans wanted to govern themselves.
However, China had ruled over Korea off and on for more than a thousand years, and the Chinese culture had a heavy influence on the Koreans. South Korea, on the other hand, did not want a Communist government.
Meanwhile, without much opposition, UN forces continued to advance toward Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.
On October 24, 1950, General McArthur ordered his troops to march to the Yalu River and occupy all Korea. This caused the Chinese to attack on October 25.
Surprised, the UN troops took heavy casualties then quickly retreated south, but many died.
General Walker ordered the UN army to fall back to the Chongchon River. Once the UN forces pulled back, the Chinese stopped fighting and returned to the hills to see what the UN’s next move would be.
After several weeks of calm, General McArthur ordered another advance toward the Yalu River and fired on the Chinese positions, which caused the Chinese to attack again on November 25.
Then the Chinese found a gap between the UN forces and split the UN defensive line sending the UN army in full retreat just at the North Korean winter arrived.
As the UN army retreated south, the US 10th Corps dug in around the Chosin Reservoir, which was high in North Korea’s mountains. The brutal winter temperature there was as low as forty below zero.
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