At 3 a.m. on January 31, 1968, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces launched simultaneous attacks on cities, towns, and military bases throughout South Vietnam. The fighting coincided with the Vietnamese lunar New Year, Tet. At one point, a handful of Viet Cong wearing South Vietnamese uniforms actually seized parts of the American Embassy in Saigon.
The North Vietnamese expected that the Tet attacks would spark a popular uprising.
The Tet offensive had an enormous psychological impact on Americans at home, convincing many Americans that further pursuit of the war was fruitless. A Gallup Poll reported that 50 percent of those surveyed disapproved of President Johnson's handling of the war, while only 35 percent approved.
When the offensive ended in late February, after the last communist units were expelled from Vietnam's ancient imperial city of Hue, an estimated 33,249 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong had been killed, along with 3,470 South Vietnamese and Americans.
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