By January 1968 the fighting in Vietnam seemed to be at a stalemate. Yet General William Westmoreland, commander of American forces, announced a new phase of the war in which 'the end begins to come into view.' The North Vietnamese had different ideas. In mid-1967, the leadership in Hanoi had started planning an offensive intended to win the war in a single stroke.
Part military action and part popular uprising, the Tet Offensive included attacks across South Vietnam, but the most dramatic and successful would be the capture of Hue, the country's cultural capital. At 2:30 a.m. on January 31, 10,000 National Liberation Front troops descended from hidden camps and surged across the city of 140,000.
By morning, all of Hue was in Front hands save for two small military outposts. The commanders in country and politicians in Washington refused to believe the size and scope of the Front's presence. After several futile and deadly days, Lieutenant Colonel Ernie Cheatham would finally com