For Americans, the tragic battle at the Chosin (Changjin) Reservoir in late November 1950 might be compared to Custer’s last stand. For the victorious Chinese Communists it was a Pyrrhic victory with heavy losses.
In the initial phases of the Korean War the North Korean forces had swept down the Korean Peninsula to the very tip at Busan. UN forces barely held on to their last toehold at the Busan (Pusan) perimeter.
After MacArthur’s masterful landing at Incheon (Inchon), South Korea was soon liberated from North Korean forces. Rather than stop at the 38th parallel, UN forces pushed far into North Korea.
Communist Chinese warnings regarding likely intervention if UN forces continued north were ignored.
Amidst serious U.S. diplomatic and intelligence errors, the significance of several major engagements with Chinese troops in NW and NE Korea was minimized by UN command.
By Thanksgiving 1950 UN forces had reached the Yalu River on the border between North Korea and China. It seemed that our boys would be home by Christmas.
Then came the devastating attack on US Marines and Army around the Chosin Reservoir by overwhelming numbers of
US Marines west of the reservoir and US Army to the east were encircled by ~120,000 Chinese troops.
The US Army’s Task Force Faith east of the reservoir bore the brunt of the Chinese offensive and suffered extremely heavy casualties.
After 9 days of relentless Chinese attacks, UN forces, loaded with wounded, were able to break out and make a fighting withdrawal through treacherous mountain roads lined with Chinese troops firing on them from the high ground.