The naval Battle Of Sacheon took place on May 29, 1592 and was the first battle in the Imjin War when the Turtle Ship was used.
After the Battle of Okpo
, Admiral Yi
returned to Yōsu
, his headquarters. Admiral Yi planned to attack the Japanese again when Won Kyun
sent a report to him that Japanese ships were in Sacheon and the surrounding area. This alarmed Admiral Yi because he feared the Japanese soldiers were readying to attack Yosu. Needless to say, Admiral Yi led his fleet to Sacheon on May 29, 1592.
The Situation at Sacheon
Admiral Yi met Won Kyun at Noryang Strait
and discussed battle plans. Admiral Yi scrutinized the surrounding area. A large cliff overlooked the city and Japanese soldiers seemed to move about everywhere in the city. 12 very large Japanese warships were anchored in the harbor, along with numerous other smaller ships. Admiral Yi knew that he could not attack the Japanese in a spearhead assault because he knew that the Japanese would climb the cliff and riddle the Koreans with bullets.
Admiral Yi's Lure
One must know that Admiral Yi was a highly creative and keen commander. He was an extremely good strategist and the difficult position he was in was not a problem for him. Admiral Yi saw that the Japanese had acted boastfully and decided to use that fact to his advantage.
Admiral Yi wanted to fight the Japanese in the sea where there was more room to maneuver. Thus he suddenly turned his battleships around and retreated. Apparently, the Japanese commander had been observing the Korean movements and quickly ordered his captains to take a portion of the fleet anchored at Sacheon and attack the Koreans when he saw them retreat. Taking the bait, the Japanese jumped into their ships and pursued the Koreans.
The Turtle Ship
The Battle of Sacheon was the first battle during which Admiral Yi
deployed the turtle ship
. By the time the Koreans and the Japanese were out on the open sea, it was nearly dark. Nonetheless, Admiral Yi had the turtle ship and his other vessels turn around quickly and fire upon the Japanese. Like the previously fought and won Battle of Okpo
, Admiral Yi had his men unleash a hail of cannonballs and fire arrows. This had an immediate effect on the enemy warships, and the Japanese ships started taking heavy damage.
The fierce and sudden Korean attack shocked the Japanese. But unlike their previous poor performance at the Battle of Okpo, the Japanese soldiers fought bravely and returned fire with their arquebuses in a timely manner. Unfortunately for the Japanese, they did not have a chance to board the Korean ships because of concentrated Korean cannon fire. Then, the Japanese began to panic when the Turtle Ship appeared. This was quite a good reason to panic because the Turtle Ship smashed into the Japanese lines and began to fire in every direction.
It was in the heat of the battle when the course of Korea's history nearly changed; Admiral Yi was shot by a Japanese arquebusier. The Korean captains were shocked. Luckily, the bullet only punctured the skin of his left arm leaving Admiral Yi with a very minor injury.
In a couple of hours, every single Japanese warship that had fought was sunk to the bottom of the sea. Few survivors straggled ashore. The Battle of Sacheon caused the Japanese command at Busan
to become anxious and fearful when the news of the Turtle Ship came. Supply ships that were coming from Japan might be in danger now that Admiral Yi was ready to attack.