Wednesday, September 16, 2009

America's first battles in Korea. May 30 - June 11, 1871

Corporal Brown and Private Purvis on the left both received the Congressional Medal of honor for capturing this Korean flag in 1871
Americans took 3 forts and many areas. But the Koreans refused to their credit to surrender.
This diplomatic group from Korea offered as a peace settlement 3 bullocks, 50 chickens, and 10,000 eggs. Both sides misunderstood the other. Mostly the Americans who had no understanding of Korean culture.

On May 30, 1871 a five vessel squadron under the command of Rear Admiral John Rodgers came to open the ports of Korea. It was a rather pushy affair and it was done much as it had been done with other countries. A show of force as a way to open up relations. They were going to do it if the Koreans liked it or not.

Well the Koreans did not like it. Not at all.

It seems there had been several wrecks by merchant ships off the coast of Korea and the crews had been attacked and some cases murdered.
That is why the Rear Admiral Rodgers came to Korea, to secure a treaty to protect shipwrecked victims in the future. Also as mentioned before to open Korea to western trade. Which was the more important part of this mission to be honest.

While they were waiting for Korean officials they did some soundings in the water and were fired on by a Korean fort. The Americans waited 10 days for an apology. Having not received one the Americans invaded the forts on the coast of Seoul in an amphibious assault. During the attack 2 soldiers acquired a Korean flag from a fort. Their action would garner them a Congressional Medal of Honor.
It was not a long battle, nor were the Koreans ready to say they were sorry. They had no reason too. But the Koreans fought fiercely and refused to negotiate even though they were taking on rather strong losses. There was really no reason for the Americans to invade the forts. It was just a total misunderstanding or lack of concern over other cultures that led to the event.

However try as they may to force the Koreans to do as they commanded or wanted, they were not ready to budge. They had no need or reason too. The only thing the Koreans were willing to do to solve the issue was to give the American forces 3 bullocks, 50 chickens and 10,000 eggs. Which was more than kind on their part.
Much to the relief of the Koreans, the Americans were forced to flee due to an approaching typhoon.

Korea was known in those days as the "hermit kingdom". They did not sign a treaty till with the United States till 1881. The first that they had with any western nation.

One of the sad parts of this was America's "gunboat" visits. It was looked at by the Koreans, who were very happy being isolated, as an invasion. Therefore, they took what they saw as a proper action.
It would have paid for the navy to understand the culture before they just demanded what they saw as proper western ideas. None the less, this was the end of what was America's first battle in Korea.....

The one no one knows about.