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of evaporated
. . . and left some local force-rinky dinks . . . when his defense crumbled,
it crumbled.49

On the morning of 7 February, both Marine battalions renewed their
offensive. On the right flank, Cheatham's battalion with two companies
on line and one in reserve made rapid progress. According to the battalion's
entry for the day in its after-action report, "it became quite obvious
the enemy had retreated leaving bodies and weapons behind." On the left
flank, the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines also moved forward, but at a slower
pace, and met pockets of heavy resistance. The NVA knocked out an Ontos
supporting the battalion with a B-40 rocket, killing the driver and
wounding the vehicle's commander. After a firefight, a platoon from
Company B retrieved the damaged vehicle, evacuated the wounded Marine,
and recovered the body of the dead man.50

By 10 February, despite some desperate efforts by isolated groups
of NVA and the occasional sniper, the two Marine battalions had reached
their objectives. With the Marines in control south of the Perfume River
and the NVA still holding fast in the Citadel north of the river, Hue
was now indeed two cities. Three days earlier, North Vietnamese sappers
had blown the main bridge across the Perfume, literally dividing the
city in two. Marine engineers destroyed the Le Loi Bridge at the end
of Le Loi Street to prevent the enemy from bringing reinforcements into
southern Hue from the west. At the same time, the 1st Battalion, 1st
Marines, reinforced by Company G, had secured the northern end of the
wrecked An Cuu Bridge over the Phu Cam Canal. Lieutenant Colonel Cheatham
and the remaining companies of the 2d Battalion prepared to cross the
Phu Cam and enter a new area of operations south of the city.51

In clearing the modern city, the Marines took a heavy toll of the
enemy, but at a high cost to themselves. The Americans had accounted
for over 1,000 enemy dead, took 6 prisoners, and detained 89 suspects.
Marine casualties included 38 dead and about 320 wounded. Company H
had been particularly hard hit. Every officer, including Captain Christmas,
and most of the staff NCOs had sustained wounds. Corporals were now
squad leaders. One Marine from Company G observed, "we would start getting
new guys and it just seemed that every time we got new guys we would
lose them just as fast as we got them." Another Marine from the same
unit remarked, "the stink-you had to load up so many wounded, the blood
would dry on your hands. In two or three days you would smell like death
itself."52

With the Marine lines secure, the South Vietnamese authorities assisted
by U.S. military and civilian advisors began to bring some semblance
of order into southern Hue. They established a refugee center at the
University for the hapless civilians unexpectedly caught in the middle
of a war. The National Police began to take harsh measures against both
civilians and ARVN troops participating in the wholesale looting that
occurred behind the Marine advance. By 13 February, Marine engineers
had built a pontoon bridge alongside the destroyed An Cuu span and Marine
truck convoys brought in much-needed supplies and food for both the
troops and the civilian population. Although the battle for southern
Hue was largely over, the fight for the Citadel had just begun.53






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