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  • Last time we left,

  • Yi storming through the waters south of Korea,

  • Savaging the Japanese fleet wherever he went. He had driven them first to consolidate their forces to try to thwart him and then

  • finally to give up on offensive naval operations entirely.

  • Restricting their fleets to just defending the vital supplies coming in at Busan.

  • Now it was in this last harbor that Yi would attack them. In the two months since the battle of Angolpo, Yi had trained his men,

  • reinforced his fleet, and tried to rationalize the structure of Korean naval command. Now on September 1st 1592,

  • he was ready to take on the combined Japanese armada at Busan.

  • His fleet of 166 ships set out to destroy the nearly 500 Japanese ships awaiting them in Busan Bay.

  • He caught a few stragglers along the way, but the Japanese had finally learned from their past encounters with him.

  • They were holed up in the harbor now. And while Yi's ships were able to fire into the harbor from outside Japanese cannon range,

  • he couldn't find an opening to get close enough to achieve the type of complete victory he craved.

  • As long as the Japanese were in that harbor, they were protected by the surrounding troops and cannon on the shore.

  • By the end of the day, Yi's fleet had destroyed 130 ships and the Japanese hadn't sunk a single vessel,

  • but the Japanese forces still held the all important harbor of Busan.

  • Yi had not been able to break their last line of supply. Now they'd be able to re-entrench and re-enforce the harbor.

  • As winter set in and the campaign season slowed down, the situation on the ground changed as well.

  • An army from China had finally arrived in the North, and by January they had driven the Japanese out of Pyongyang.

  • All over the country the Japanese started to fall back, unable to sustain their lengthy lines of supply, due to Yi's bottling up of their navy.

  • By April, Seoul was retaken as well, and Busan served as the last great Japanese stronghold, anchoring their control on Southern Korea.

  • By August, Yi was promoted to supreme commander of the Korean army

  • and moved his base to the island of Hansando, where he had previously used his 'crane wing' formation to crush the Japanese offensive fleet.

  • Again and again, Yi petitioned the court for marines so that he could resume naval operations,

  • because his fleet couldn't attack the Japanese so long as they stayed defended under their shore guns,

  • and without marines, he couldn't dislodge the shore batteries in order to follow up with a naval attack.

  • But the Korean army was still in disarray at this point.

  • Some of the most significant military gains on land were actually being made by guerrilla forces and the righteous armies of Buddhist monks.

  • And what little of the regular army there was not already deployed on the main offensive with the Chinese,

  • was simply not up to the task Yi needed.

  • And so his fleet sat, patrolled the waters, and kept the Japanese from breaking out of Busan.

  • They would not get to engage in another major battle for some time.

  • So instead, Yi focused on turning his island base into a production center. With the country ravaged by war and most of the working-age men conscripted into the army or the navy,

  • the central government couldn't provide Yi's forces with the food, lumber, or weapons he needed to keep his men fed and his fleet in top shape.

  • So, he invited refugees to come to his island. He would protect them if they would work the land.

  • At first they were just producing grain, but soon they were harvesting salt and timber. Then the production facilities grew to handle boat building and uniform manufacturing.

  • Soon there was a full-fledged R&D wing on the island and great forges to produce goods of iron.

  • The first truly successful Korean muskets were forged here by Yi's research team.

  • But as Yi was making his navy self-sufficient,

  • the land war in Korea slowly ground to a stalemate, and peace talks began. The talks wore on for three and a half years, until in September 1596,

  • negotiations broke down and Hideyoshi prepared a second invading force of a 141,500 men to head to the shores of Korea.

  • As this new invasion force was setting sail, the Korean court received a letter from one of the Japanese commanders in which he appeared to

  • be selling out one of his counterparts, telling the Koreans exactly where his hated rival's fleet would be sailing, and

  • suggesting that if only Admiral Yi Sun-Shin would sail there he could wipe them out and do everybody a favor.

  • Now Admiral Yi heard this and laughed.

  • Yeah, nice try. He refused the order to sail his fleet into an obvious Japanese trap. But Yi's

  • childhood friend, Ryu Sun-Yung, had enemies in court. And when they heard of Yi's refusal to follow orders, they seized on this

  • opportunity and had Yi tried for treason.

  • Ryu could do nothing to save him. Yi was ordered to return to Seoul

  • for his punishment. His replacement as head of the navy would be Won Kyon.

  • This was the guy who'd sat and done nothing when the Japanese ships first invaded and then promptly scuttled his own fleet. A fleet four

  • times as large as the one Yi had been using to inflict such heavy losses on their enemies.

  • Yi was nearly sentenced to death for his insubordination, but there were still those in court who saw his value. And though

  • they couldn't save him entirely they did save his life.

  • He was once more reduced to the rank of a common soldier and sent off to fight with one of the armies.

  • But not long after he arrived at the army, the Japanese tried the same trick again.

  • They sent the court a letter, this time informing them of a large

  • transport fleet that was on its way and saying how easy it would be to pick off these

  • transports if they hurried. Won Kyon was ordered to intercept this juicy target,

  • and he immediately set sail with every ship Yi had built.

  • But when he reached the waters near Busan, he was shocked to find not an unarmed transport convoy,

  • but a massive war fleet of 500 ships.

  • Despite this and the exhaustion his men faced from traveling so quickly, Won Kyon ordered a head-on assault. The winds picked up and a gale

  • began to form. Won Kyon couldn't keep his fleet together. Soon,

  • some 30 Korean ships were burning, having drifted close enough to the enemy that for the first time in the war, the Japanese could deploy

  • their preferred form of naval warfare,

  • boarding parties. In a panic, Won Kyon ordered a retreat and fled to the island of Kadok-Do,

  • where he ordered his men off the ships to resupply.

  • What he hadn't realized was that this island was under Japanese control. As his men searched for fresh water,

  • they were set upon by the Japanese island garrison and slaughtered. Those who escaped fled back to the ships without any of the supplies

  • they desperately needed. Then the fleet just sat there, deflated and listless.

  • Commanders asked for orders, but Won Kyon had none. Though Busan itself was not far away,

  • he didn't even send out scouts or reposition his fleet. Then on the night of July 15th, guided by a full moon,

  • the Japanese struck. Won Kyon's forces were in a disadvantageous position. His men were fatigued from lack of supply, and

  • demoralized by their loss and the days of waiting.

  • Caught off guard at night and without any sort of plan, they were no match for the organized and coordinated

  • Japanese assault. Even abandoning ship couldn't save them, as those that made it to one of the nearby shores found themselves face-to-face with

  • the Japanese army, who were silently waiting there for any stragglers who might try to escape and were quickly cut down. Of the fleet

  • Yi had so carefully built, only

  • 12 ships escaped, saved by one of the sub commanders who had tried to warn Won Kyon of the danger they faced.

  • 157 Korean ships were lost that day, including every turtle ship ever built.

  • So with only 12 ships left in the entire navy, who did Korea call upon? Who else. But mere days after

  • reinstating Yi as admiral, the court informed him that they were disbanding the navy. Yi responded thusly,

  • 'This humble subject still has 12 ships. However small the number may be I solemnly swear,

  • I will be able to defend the sea if I prepare myself for death to resist the enemy.'

  • And so, they let him. So Yi plotted and pondered where he would make his last stand.

  • This would be it. This one decision would seal the fate of Korea.

  • He studied charts and tides and finally came to decide on Myeongyang, the roaring strait.

  • This particular strait had a strong current,

  • but unknown to the Japanese, its current had a strange property. Every 3 hours it changed direction.

  • It was upon this unusual current that Yi would gamble everything.

  • On September 16th, the Japanese fleet, looking to destroy the final remnant of the Korean navy, found Yi's scouts at the mouth of the strait.

  • They chased the scouts into the strait, and that's when Yi fell upon them.

  • Yi's flagship dashed into their midst, roaring cannon and tearing through Japanese timber.

  • But his ship fought alone. The rest of his navy, possessed by fear at facing such a large force, had lagged behind.

  • Eventually though, seeing the havoc Yi's ship was wreaking on the enemy,

  • they took heart. Messengers were sent from boat to boat with a mix of

  • inspirational words, threats, and the hope of victory. And soon the rest of Yi's tiny armada dove into the fray.

  • Then, a stroke of luck. The enemy flagship was blown apart by friendly fire and the Japanese began to waver.

  • Some of their ships began to turn about to fall back,

  • and it was just at this moment

  • that the waters current turned.

  • The strait was too narrow for all the Japanese ships to maneuver around each other. And with the current roaring against them, ship slammed into

  • ship. They tried in vain to retreat, tangled ships smashing into one another, screams and chaos and over it all, the roaring water.

  • With the current now on their side, the Koreans gave chase. Laying into enemy ships on either side a hail of fire and arrows.

  • The Japanese boats burnt and sank. 133 vessels had come to crush this tiny remnant of Korean navy, and

  • 31 of them wouldn't be returning. Yi, even when facing odds of ten to one, had once again not lost a single ship.

  • Word of Yi's victory spread. As his tiny fleet sailed, one by one other ships began to show up, ships that had been thought lost,

  • ships that had been hiding after the previous disaster under Won Kyon. These ships now came to join

  • Yi's tiny armada.

  • Refugees flocked to where Yi's ships were anchored, willingly giving him food, cloth, and iron. And perhaps most importantly, the

  • Chinese, who had mostly limited their naval efforts to guarding ports until now,

  • decided that they could work with the Korean navy and take the offensive. And so we'll leave Yi

  • rebuilding the Korean navy until next week when we see the Japanese invasion ended for good.

Last time we left,

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Korea: Admiral Yi - Those Who Seek Death Shall Live - Extra History - #4(Korea: Admiral Yi - Those Who Seek Death Shall Live - Extra History - #4)

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    香蕉先生 發佈於 2022 年 06 月 25 日
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