Gray smoke rose from the USS Monocacy as the ship’s cannon laid siege, battering the Koreans positioned behind parapets and palisades, high above the river. Mustered on a hill facing the Korean fort were U.S. forces—several hundred Sailors and a company of Marines—faces ruddy from the scorching midday sun as they rapidly exchanged fire with the enemy.
Abruptly silence displaced the din, as the artillery fire ceased. But the fighting had not ended. With a piercing yell, carried in unison and creating a deafening clamor, the Sailors and Marines stormed the citadel.
The first American to breech the enemy rampart was U.S. Navy Lieutenant Hugh McKee, charging fearlessly with revolver in one hand and saber in the other. He also was the first to be cut down. Shot in the groin and with an enemy spear in his side, he fell, mortally wounded. Within a short time the Koreans were overwhelmed; their matchlocks were no equal to the Americans’ breechloaders. The defenders had little time to reload, and some resorted to pelting their enemies with rocks.