The scale of the NKPA September 1 offensive was large; its main parts were complex. Clockwise around the perimeter were four major battles, all launched simultaneously.
The Naktong Bulge
The NKPA 6th and 7th divisions (about 20,000 men), attacking out of Chinju toward Masan, moved line abreast along two familiar routes: the 6th on the "south road" and the 7th on the "north road." They were supported by tanks and motorized artillery.
The NKPA 6th Division, perhaps deliberately, aimed enormous power two full regiments directly at the black 24th Regiment. The result, in the account of the Army historian, was instant chaos and disaster.[9-7]
Ever since its minor victory at Yech'ŏn in July, morale in the 24th Regiment (under two successive white commanders, Horton White and the fifty-seven-year-old Art Champeny) had been going steadily downhill. Many black officers who were present would continue to insist that the fault was largely attributable to inept white leadership.
During the month of August the 24th Infantry had been continuously on the front line on Hill 625 (Hill 665), which would be remembered as "Battle Mountain." The fighting there had been particularly vicious and arduous. The regiment had incurred a total of 500 battle casualties (75 dead, 425 wounded); many others were felled by the heat. A veteran of the fight remembered that Battle Mountain changed hands "nineteen times" in August. During the battle the 2/24 had three commanders: Horace Donaho, George R. Cole, and finally, Paul Roberts, the regimental exec, who assumed command temporarily.[9-8]
The Army historian's account of the 24th's August fighting on Battle Mountain is the most scathing indictment of an Army regiment (white or black) ever published. Black GIs are repeatedly depicted as fleeing cowards, white officers as heroic figures attempting to stem the stampedes, often at great personal risk. Many black officers who were on the scene insist that the historian's account (which fails to note the 24th's 500 battle casualties) is grossly inaccurate and racist, part of the Army's public "lynching" of the regiment, which, they assert, did no worse than some white regiments. Until an objective history of the 24th Infantry in Korea is produced the truth of this account cannot be assessed.[9-9]