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NOTES

Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam - A History. New Yourk: Penguin Books. 1983.

  • Most bitter battle of the entire war
  • Hue was a lovely old town of temples and palaces, reconstructed in the 1800s to replicate Beijing
  • Communist forces took over the city on January 31, raising their flag over the fortress called the Citadel
  • Vietcong teams went house-to-house capturing enemies – almost three thousand bodies were later exhumed in nearby mass graves
  • Some South Vietnamese troops slipped into Hue to fight back
  • Hue and the Citadel were liberated on February 24 – three US Marine battalions played a decisive role in the liberation
  • Myron Harrington – “We were accustomed to jungles and open rice fields, and now we would be fighting in a city, like it was Europe during World War II. One of the beautiful things about the marines is that they adapt quickly, but we were going to take a number of casualties learning some basic lessons in this experience.”
  • Marines crossed the Perfume River under fire – entered Hue from the north, threaded though streets as they made their way to the Citadel
  • Harrington - "there were burnt-out tanks and trucks, and upturned automobiles still smoldering. Bodies lay everywhere, mostly civilians. The smoke and stench blended, like in some kind of horror movie – except that it lacked weird music.”
  • Harrington - “Right away you realized you weren’t going to a little picnic.”
  • Combat was often hand to hand, and the battle was one of the fiercest in this war or any war.
  • Television crews were following along, sending the battle home to millions of Americans
  • Nearly one hundred and fifty Marines lost their lives in the battle for Hue, as well as four hundred South Vietnamese troops
  • An estimated 5000 communist soldiers died – mostly as a result of air bombardment that also hurt civilians
  • Unnamed - The hardest part was not knowing where they are – that’s the worst thing. Rising around, running in sewers, the gutter, anywhere. Could be anywhere. Just hope you can stay alive, day to day.



Caputo, Philip. 10,000 Days of Thunder - A History of the Vietnam War. New York: Antheum Books for Young Readers. 2005.
  • Tet - Vietnamese lunar new year, most important holiday on Vietnamese calendarcease-fire truce had been observed over three day holiday
  • 68 - General Giap planned surprise attacks on major military bases and cities in South Vietnam by North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong
  • Giap hoped to inspire an uprising among SV people who would support the Communists and help overthrow Saigon
  • Hue was an ancient capital of Vietnam - overrun on January 30
  • Americans had some advanced warning, not completely surprised
  • Tet Offensive ended up a military disaster for the North Vietnamese - all cities and bases remained in South and American hands, and people kept supporting South, Communists suffered more than 58000 soldiers killed - US suffered les that 4000, SV less than 5000
  • VietCong effectively wiped out, never again an effective fighting force
  • Tet was a political disaster for the US - new media covered the attack, took the public by surprise, people thought the war was close to over and the enemy was weak

"Fight for a Citadel". Time Magazine. March 1, 1968.
  • the fiercest and most costly battle of the Vietnamese war to that point
  • over 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong holed up behind the foundations of crumbled buildings, among the jagged battlements of the Citadel's six-mile wall for four weeks
  • Enemy sharpshooters trained their scopes on the allies from Hué's highest spots; machine-gunners picked wide-angle vantage points; and mortar fire struck everywhere, like an infernal rain
  • relentless two-prong attack—U.S. Marines southbound on the east, ARVN Marines headed the same way on the west.
  • U.S. tanks clearing the way through the city's debris-covered avenues, helicopters sprayed napalm across the ponds and courtyards of the Imperial Palace, bombers blasted away at three main enemy positions
  • progress was slow and costly for the Marines - whole companies were pinned down against their rubble shields by a single, well-placed machine-gunner
  • Lieut. General Robert E. Cushman Jr., commander of 1 Corps forces: "The gods of war were in their favor
  • Communist troops crawled through sewer lines beneath the city that led up to street level behind allied lines
  • Marines waited out the weather for air cover or rested for their next push, Marines sipped endless cups of powdered coffee, sometimes breaking out a liberated magnum of French champagne to accompany their C rations
  • The most important advance came when low-crouching U.S. Marines swept onto the long south wall overlooking the Perfume riverbank, a position that finally gave the allies sturdy positions on each wall of the Citadel. The Marines celebrated by triumphantly running up the Stars and Stripes in full view of modern Hué, across the river
  • Hue was the imperial city, the seat of Viet Nam's government and a center of its learning during the 19th century
  • The death toll was among the most expensive of the war: nearly 450 allied dead, including some 100 U.S. Marines, and so many casualties that the 5th Battalion's 1st Regiment was finally left at half strength