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Leadership in the Crucible

The Korean War Battles of Twin Tunnels and Chipyong-ni

By Kenneth E. Hamburger

Publication Year: 2003

At the pivotal battles of Twin Tunnels and Chipyong-ni in February 1951, U.N. forces met and contained large-scale attacks by Chinese forces. Colonel Paul Freeman and the larger-than-life Colonel Ralph Monclar led the American 23rd Infantry Regiment and the French Bataillon de Corée, respectively, in the fierce and dangerous battles that followed the precipitous U.N. retreat down the Korean Peninsula. In Leadership in the Crucible, Kenneth Hamburger details the actions of the units in the United Nations counteroffensive following the Chinese intervention, including routine patrols, the harrowing battle of Twin Tunnels, and the pivotal siege of Chipyong-ni. The regiment was cut off from artillery fire support and was resupplied only by parachute drops. Repeatedly attacked by superior Chinese forces during the two nights and final day of fighting, the U.N. units finally welcomed relief by the armored Tank Force Crombez of the 1st Cavalry Division. From extensive personal interviews and a careful reconstruction of the written record, Hamburger brilliantly analyzes the roles that training, cohesion, morale, logistics, and leadership play in success or failure on the front lines of limited war. He also addresses the vexing problem of when, and at what level, commanders have the right and even the responsibility to question lawful orders they believe are flawed. In this careful consideration of combat leadership at all levels, Hamburger offers his readers stories of men sustaining themselves and one another to the limits of human endurance. By thoroughly sorting out the chaos, carnage, and courage of the battles, he provides a uniquely detailed description of these two crucial battles and a well-organized discussion of unit cohesion and command that is sure to become a classic in the field of leadership studies.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press


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p. v


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p. vii


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p. ix

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pp. xi-xiii

A colored print posted in the adjutant’s office of the artillery battalion where I began my military service as a lieutenant in the 82d Airborne Division was my first contact with the 23d Infantry Regiment and the battle of Chipyong-ni. It was one in a series of illustrations of famous battles...

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pp. 3-12

The phenomenon of leadership—leaders and their followers together accomplishing given tasks—is the focus of this work. As a way to study this phenomenon, it examines in some detail the actions of the 23d Infantry Regimental Combat Team and the French United Nations Infantry Battalion during...

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Chapter 1 The 23d Infantry Regiment and Col. Paul Freeman

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pp. 13-23

In the summer of 1950, the soldiers of the 23d Infantry Regiment had no inkling of the destiny that awaited them in the Korean War. The regiment would earn two Presidential Unit Citations, the U.S. Army’s highest award for achievement...

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Chapter 2 Baptism by Fire on the Naktong River Line

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pp. 24-45

The 23d Infantry Regiment arrived in Korea to find itself in a war unlike any the U.S. Army had ever fought, in a place it had never expected to fight. Neither the American people nor their soldiers had ever envisioned an American army...

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Chapter 3 Disaster in the North

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pp. 46-63

By 1 November, the 23d Regiment was stationed near Haeju, a deep-water port on the coast of North Korea southwest of Pyongyang. Soldiers and even their commander, Col. Paul Freeman, thought that the 2d Division, including...

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Chapter 4 The French Battalion and Lt. Col. Ralph Monclar

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pp. 64-79

On 24 July 1950, Gen. Douglas MacArthur established the United Nations Command in Tokyo. The UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to hostilities and withdrawal of North Korean troops behind the 38th Parallel also pledged member nations to assist in carrying out the resolution. As the...

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Chapter 5 Matthew Ridgway and a New War

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pp. 80-87

When Lt. Gen. Walton Walker was killed in a vehicle accident just before Christmas, 1950, Lt. Gen. Matthew Bunker Ridgway flew to Korea to take command. On the way to the Eighth Army in Korea, he stopped in Tokyo to be briefed by General MacArthur. While there, he asked...

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Chapter 6 Wonju and Patrols to Twin Tunnels

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pp. 88-104

By January, 1951, three UN corps were responsible for roughly the western half of the Korean peninsula. From west to east, I Corps was on the left; IX Corps next, south of Seoul; and X Corps was on the right. Republic of Korea units and the U.S. Marine Corps were responsible for the mountainous eastern...

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Chapter 7 The Battle of Twin Tunnels

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pp. 105-125

On the morning of 30 January 1951, Lieutenant Colonel Edwards reported to the regimental headquarters that Captain Tyrrell estimated there were two enemy companies on Hill 453. Receiving this information, Lt. Gen. Ned Almond, the corps commander, ordered the regiment to take...

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Chapter 8 Prelude to Chipyong-ni

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pp. 126-150

The battle of Twin Tunnels gave the Americans and their French comrades confidence in their ability to absorb anything their foes could muster against them. The battle had been a close call in which the defenders were saved by airpower at the last moment before disaster struck. Nonetheless, the UN forces...

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Chapter 9 Isolated and Encircledat Chipyong-ni

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pp. 151-172

Since his assumption of command in late December, 1950, the Eighth Army commander, Lt. Gen. Matthew Ridgway, had wanted to go on the offensive against the North Korean Peoples Army and its ally, the Chinese Communist Forces. At Wonju in...

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Chapter 10 Fighting and Surviving on the Second Day

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pp. 173-191

The soldiers of the 23d Infantry Regiment and its French Battalion went into the second night of their siege with a mixture of confidence and foreboding. The word of Freeman’s injury had rippled through the command on the rumor network at the same time it was being relayed down the official chain of...

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Chapter 11 Task Force Crombez Runs the Gauntlet

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pp. 192-217

When Task Force Crombez, the armor-heavy rescue column from the 5th Cavalry Regiment, entered Chipyong-ni, everyone inside the perimeter and the chain of command up to Ridgway himself breathed a sigh of relief. A United Nations force had won its first victory over the....

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Chapter 12 Aftermath and Reflections

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pp. 218-230

The arrival of Task Force Crombez brought the battle of Chipyongni to a dramatic end late in the afternoon on 15 February 1951, although the leaders could not be sure of that at the time. Ammunition stocks were critically low throughout the 23d RCT, and the task...


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pp. 231-245

Suggestions for Further Reading

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pp. 247-249


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pp. 251-257

E-ISBN-13: 9781603446785
E-ISBN-10: 1603446788
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585442324
Print-ISBN-10: 1585442321

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 21 b&w photos., 4 maps.
Publication Year: 2003

OCLC Number: 53976660
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Leadership in the Crucible

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Subject Headings

  • France. Armée. Bataillon de Corée -- History.
  • United States. Army. Infantry Regiment, 23rd (1866-1957) -- History -- 20th century.
  • Korean War, 1950-1953 -- Regimental histories -- France.
  • Chipyong-ni, Battle of, Chipʻyŏng-ni, Korea, 1951.
  • Twin Tunnels, Battle of, Korea, 1951.
  • Korean War, 1950-1953 -- Regimental histories -- United States.
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