The Korean Expedition of 1871
The Korean Expedition of 1871
In 1866, the General Sherman, an armed merchant marine side-wheel steamer, sailed into Korean waters and was never heard from again. Its disappearance was rooted in mystery and speculation. In reality, as early as 1868, Korean officials acknowledged that the General Sherman had been sunk and the crew killed for ignoring the Korean ban on foreigners and in effect violating Korean sovereignty. One of several explanations had the ship destroyed on the Tae-dong River. The Korean Kingdom’s adversity to foreigners would set the stage for the US Korean Expedition to follow in another five years.
The Earliest Known Flag of the Kingdom of Korea
An American naval force of 650 men (500+ sailors and 100 Marines) and five war ships: USS Colorado, USS Alaska, USS Palos, USS Monocacy and USS Benica under the command of Rear Admiral John Rodgers had shown up in support of a futile attempt by US Ambassador to China, Frederick F. Low, who was onboard the USS Colorado, to negotiate a trade treaty with Korea. The U.S. naval force would ultimately unleash a punishing attack on the natives for depredations on Americans, particularly for murdering the crew of the General Sherman and burning the ship, and later for firing on American boats taking soundings on the Salee River.
Ganghwa (Kanghwa) Island
Gwangeong Fortress (the Citadel) Anhaeru Gate
Following a heavy American bombardment of the Citadel, the American forces led by Lt. Hugh McKee, one of three Americans killed-in-action, charged the fortress. When the battle was over, the Americans had captured the battle flag of General Eo Uh Je-yeon, who was also killed during the action, at a cost of 248 Koreans and three Americans killed in action. A fourth American fatality was subsequently attributed to disease. Following the action (June 10-12, 1871), the US Asiatic Squadron remained at anchor off Jakyak Island until July 3, 1871 when it eventually returned to Chinese waters.
The Captured Battle Flag, Called Sujagi, of General Eo Uh Je-yeon Onboard the USS Colorado.
From April to May 1882, the United States and Korea eventually negotiated and approved a 14 article Treaty of Amity and Commerce. The treaty established mutual friendship and mutual assistance in case of attack. The treaty also addressed extraterritorial rights for American citizens in Korea and most favored nation trade status. The treaty remained in effect until the eventual annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910. Marines would return in 1888 and again in 1904-5 to protect American interests during periods of unrest.
Nine sailors and six Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor, the first for actions in a foreign conflict. At the time of the expedition, only enlisted men were eligible to receive the medal.
U.S. Navy Recipients
ANDREWS, JOHN, Ordinary Seaman, U.S. Navy, USS Benicia
FRANKLIN, FREDERICK, Quartermaster, U.S. Navy, USS Colorado
GRACE, PATRICK H., Chief Quartermaster, U.S. Navy, USS Benicia
HAYDEN, CYRUS, Carpenter, U.S. Navy, USS Colorado
LUKES, WILLIAM F., Landsman, U.S. Navy
Mc KENZlE, ALEXANDER, Boatswain's Mate, U.S. Navy, USS Colorado
MERTON, JAMES F., Landsman, U.S. Navy
ROGERS, SAMUEL F., Quartermaster, U.S. Navy, USS Colorado
TROY, WILLIAM, Ordinary Seaman, U.S. Navy, USS Colorado
US Navy and Marine Corps Medal of Honor Type 1 With Fouled Anchor
BROWN, CHARLES, Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, USS Colorado
COLEMAN, JOHN, Private, U.S. Marine Corps, USS Colorado
DOUGHERTY, JAMES*, Private, U.S. Marine Corps, USS Benicia
McNAMARA, MICHAEL, Private, U.S. Marine Corps, USS Benicia
OWENS, MICHAEL, Private, U.S. Marine Corps, USS Colorado
PURVIS, HUGH, Private, U.S. Marine Corps, USS Alaska
USN Good Conduct Badge – the Only Other US Medal at the Time
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