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Marine Amphibious Landing in Korea, 1871; Charles Schleininger corsair schleini@lemoorenet.com D. Winkler; sea Power - Nov. 99

Nearly two decades after commodore Matthew C. Perry's diplomatic triumph of opening Japan to foreigners, the United States sought to establish relations with Korea. This effort was notable - especially in the wake of incidents in 1866 in which Koreans treated the U.S. crew of the shipwrecked vessel SURPRISE with kindness, yet slaughtered the crew of the visiting merchantman GENERAL SHERMAN after it was stranded in the Han River.

Cdr. Robert W. Shufert steamed to the "Hermit Kingdom" In the USS WACHUSETT to investigate this ... behavior in Jan. 1867. He carried a letter of inquiry for the Korean rulers. A year later, Cdr. John C. Febiger returned on the corvette USS SHENANDOAH to receive the reply & to survey the Taedong River. The Korean response was statesmanlike, explaining that the GENERAL SHERMAN had provoked a confrontation. However, one of the SHENANDAOH's survey boats was fired upon, prompting Febiger to call for an expedition to avenge this affront to the American flag.

Three years passed before a flotilla arrived off Kangwha Island near Soul under the command of Rear Adm. John Rodgers. The ships of the Navy's Asiatic Squadron consisted of the frigate USS COLORADO, corvettes USS ALASKA & USS BENICIA, & gunboats MONACACY 7 PALOS. Embarked was the American Minister to China, Frederick Low, who hoped to obtain an apology for the firing incident & negotiate trade & shipwreck conventions.

Due to ... shallow waters of the Salee River, only the gunboats could advance to survey the approaches to Soul. On 1 June 1871, the MONACACY & PALOS moved forward & were fired upon. The Korans then ignored an ultimatum ... on 10th & 11th, a punitive landing party of mostly Marines was placed ashore to storm & destroy the Korean forts. Marines encountered the fiercest resistance while attacking the Kawangsong citadel, which was perched atop a 150 - foot hill. After hauling howitzers into ... firing positions, the marines isolated the bastion from reinforcements. They ... scaled the wall & engaged the Korean defenders in hand-to -hand combat. ... Marines pushed their attack forward to capture the bastion - killing 243 of the estimated 300 defenders. 3 marines were killed, & 2 corporals were awarded the Medal of Honor. ...

Unfortunately, ... did not achieve U.S. diplomatic & trade objectives. Realizing his forces were too weak to pursue any further ... Rodgers withdrew on 3 July. Except for praise for the marines, the press castigated the government ... One newspaper wrote: "They sent a force altogether too large for the delivery of the message of peace & too small for the prosecution of war." ... the drastic reduction from the 600 - ship fleet of the Civil War clearly limited its strategic operations.

Korea halted hostile actions ... but it would be japan, not the United States, that opened Korea diplomatically in 1876 with the Treaty of Kangwha. the United States eventually became the first western power to, have a treaty with Korea ... May 1882.



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