Battle of Chipyong-ni Begins

U.S. #2152 was based on 1950 photo of U.S. troops retreating from Chosin Reservoir.

On February 13, 1951, the Battle of Chipyong-ni, sometimes called the “high-water mark” of the Chinese fighting in Korea, began.

Chinese forces first entered Korea in November 1950. U.N. troops were uncertain of their intentions or capabilities, and drew back to the 38th parallel. When it became obvious that the Chinese had overstretched their supply lines, General Matthew B. Ridgeway decided to make a stand at Chipyong-ni, a key road intersection.

U.S. #3187e from the Celebrate the Century: 1950s stamp sheet.

The 23rd Infantry Regiment arrived in advance of the People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) and dug defenses, prepared artillery, and set up communications. Three battalions, including one from France, reinforced them. General Paul Freeman, Jr. was in command of 4,500 men.

The Chinese first set up around Chipyong-ni during the afternoon of February 13, 1951, but all their attacks were held off. As General Paul Freeman predicted, the Chinese launched their attack that night. Between 10 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., the Chinese led multiple attacks on several French and American positions.

U.S. #5065 – Freeman was one of over 800 recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross during the Korean War.

Though some of these attacks forced the Americans to move back from their positions, they eventually regained their ground with minimal loss of life. General Freeman was wounded in the leg during that first night of fighting. He refused to be evacuated and insisted on remaining in Chipyong-ni until the battle was over. He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery and leadership there.

The Chinese called off their attacks on the morning of the 14th, as they knew the Air Force would soon be able to strike on them with ease. Fighting was minimal during the day, but resumed again that night. The Americans were dangerously low on ammunition, so the Air Force began dropping it down along with flares, so the troops could find the much-needed ammunition. The battle continued through the night and into the next afternoon. With the threat of Air Force napalm bombardment, the Chinese withdrew from battle. Chipyong-ni was a major morale booster for the Americans, who had previously seen the Chinese as unbeatable.

U.S. #4823a – William S. Sitman received the Medal of Honor posthumously for throwing himself on a grenade to save five of his men.

The Battle of Chipyong-ni proved to be a turning point in the war as the PVA began retreating north across the 38th Parallel. The battle has been called the “Gettysburg of the Korean War” and the high water mark of the Chinese involvement in the war.

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  1. This was nice to read about since my husband was in the Navy during that time and he was proud of
    the four years he was in the war. He received a medal from Korea for serving during that time and
    he was proud of it. Thank you for the nice article.

    1. Paul Lamar Freeman, Jr.(June 29, 1907–April 17, 1988), born in Philippines, son of an army doctor, died at Monterrey, California, was a full colonel from 1950 through his posting as the Commander of the 23rd Infantry Regiment in the 2nd Infantry Division, at which time he was wounded in February 1951 at Chipyong-ni. He was a brigadier general from 1955, major general from 1956, lieutenant general from 1960 and full general from 1962 until retiring in 1967 as Commanding General, U.S. Continental Army Command. He would be an excellent subject for a United States stamp issuance.

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