In bloody, muddy Korea, Douglas MacArthur and his field commander, Major General William F. Dean, had to hold a line somewhere between the battle zone and the southern supply port of Pusan. It seemed vital to hold the Sochon-Taejon-Taegu-Pusan railroad (see map)—double-tracked from Pusan to Taejon, the U.S. field headquarters—not only to feed the U.S. build-up in men and weapons but for lateral mobility behind the defense line. In the western sector, focus of last week's bloodiest fighting, Taejon and the rail line had a fine natural defense in front of them: the Kum River.

When the first U.S. battalions...

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