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The First U.S./Korean Conflict was in 1871 Over The Attempted Opening Of Trade

When I visited the National Marine Corp Museum, in Quantico Virginia, there was an interesting exhibit on the U.S. military’s first ever conflict with the country of Korea.

Map of the American Naval Operations in Korea, 1871.
Map of the American Naval Operations in Korea, 1871.

Most individuals are aware of the US military’s second military engagement with the Asian country of Korea, the Korean War that spanned from Jun 25, 1950 to Jul 27, 1953.  However, most do not know that in 1871, Korean ships attacked five U.S. Navy warships and set aflame the ship, General Sherman, forcing the crew to abandon it.  The five ships approached the hermit kingdom to establish a new trade partner, and that kingdom responded by celebrating the abandonment of the General Sherman in Pyongyang.  The ships anchor and cannons were put up for display to the public.

Korean Flag on Ship
Korean flag on ship, 1871.

The US military asked for an apology from the Korean government for the loss of the ship, and after receiving no apology, U.S. military command ordered a retaliatory attack.  Ships such as the USS Monocacy provided support for the gunships in that retaliatory attack.

USS Monocacy
The USS Monocacy, 1871.

The U.S. Navy’s Naval History and Heritage Command and the publication the National Interest has more information on the first U.S./Korean conflict.

Marine Amphibious Landing in Korea, 1871.

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