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These initial NKPA successes compelled Johnnie Walker to order a general withdrawal of the 1st Cav Division to positions in an arc about eight miles above Taegu on September 5. This maneuver  difficult under ideal circumstances  did not go well. Some troops panicked and bugged out, leaving weapons and equipment. Many were cut off and trapped. Casualties in all three infantry regiments were very heavy.[9-67]

Taegu was again in the grip of crisis, and evacuation seemed almost a certainty. As a precaution Walker ordered some American elements to withdraw to Pusan: most of the Eighth Army staff; the 1st Cav's ammo trains. The ROK Army headquarters followed the Eighth Army staff. But Walker and his "tactical staff" did not abandon the city. By then Walker had apparently made the decision to die defending Taegu, as Robert Martin had died defending Chonan and Bill Dean had died (it was believed) defending Taejon. Walker told one American division commander (probably Gay) defiantly: "You will not withdraw your division beyond terrain from which it can cover Taegu. If the enemy gets into Taegu, you will find me resisting him in the streets and I'll have some of my trusted people with me. And you had better be prepared to do the same. Now get back to your division and fight it." The Army historian wrote that Walker told another general "he did not want to see him back from the front again unless it was in a coffin.[9-68]

Dug into new positions before Taegu, the 1st Cav was compelled, in the words of one historian, "to fight for its very existence." It was a terrible ordeal. The weather was ghastly: steaming heat and heavy rains. The NKPA swarmed over the hills like goats, taking high ground, lobbing mortars and grenades. They had to be rooted out, hill by hill, in an endless succession of company and platoon attacks. Some hills changed hands four or five times or more. The casualties on both sides were appalling. Among the hundreds of evacuated American wounded were the 2/8 commander Gerald Robbins and his S3, Richard Cohen, who was hit while temporarily serving as commander of the troubled E Company.[9-69]