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route. The rear guard 2d Battalion of the 38th had made a highly successful withdrawal and was assembled a half mile north of Rocherath. The 395th Infantry had moved back as ordered and, thus far in good shape, held the left flank of the 2d Division northeast of Rocherath astride the two approaches to the fork above the village. (It had left the 324th Engineer Battalion isolated on Rath Hill, however, and when the engineers started west on the morning of the 18th they came under fire from both the 395th and the enemy.) Straggler lines were operating around the twin villages and a start was being made at regrouping the strays and tying together the bits and pieces of the American line. Wirtzfeld, the one good escape hatch to Elsenborn, was ready for a defense in force. The 2d Division artillery and its reinforcing battalions had displaced to the Elsenborn ridge in positions within range of the entire front. General Robertson's 2d Division and attached troops had carried through a highly complex maneuver in the face of the enemy, disengaging in a fortified zone, withdrawing across a crumbling front, then wheeling from column to secure and organize a defensive line in the dark and under attack. Having completed this mission, the 2d Division was under orders to hold in place while the remnants of the 99th Division right wing passed through to Elsenborn; then it was to break away and re-form for the defense of the Elsenborn ridge.


The appearance of the 2d Infantry Division at the twin villages probably came as a complete surprise to the German command. German intelligence had failed completely as regards the location of this division and believed that it was