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tered back to Vielsalm: the 112th had withdrawn to Huldange, thus coming closer to the 7th Armored and 106th. Finally, in midafternoon, Colonel Nelson (commanding the 112th) appeared at the 106th Division command post and reported his situation, and the regiment was taken over by General Jones-a solution subsequently approved by General Middleton. Colonel Nelson brought a welcome addition to the St. Vith forces. His regiment had lost most of its vehicles, radios, and crew-served weapons but had suffered relatively light casualties and lost but few stragglers. It was well in the hand of its commander and ready to fight. Jones ordered the 112th Infantry to draw northward on the night of l9-20 December and make a firm connection with the southern flank of the 424th.


Throughout the 19th there were sporadic clashes with the enemy around the perimeter. The threatened sector remained the line from Poteau to St. Vith, and from St. Vith along the eastern front covered by CCB, 7th Armored, and CCB, 9th Armored. At Poteau CCA brought more troops into and around the village, while the enemy fired in from the hill to the north rising along-side the Recht road. The southern column of the 1st SS Panzer Division, which first had captured the town, was long since gone, hurrying west. But the newly committed 9th SS Panzer Division, following in its wake via Recht, threw a large detachment of panzer grenadiers into the woods around Poteau, either to retake the crossroad or to pin the Americans there. The resulting state of affairs was summed up when the executive officer of CCA reported to the division G-3: "The CO of CCA wanted these facts made known. He is extended and cannot protect the right flank of the zone between Recht and Poteau. He cannot protect Poteau. He needed two companies of infantry deployed and one in reserve. He is getting infiltration in his rear from the vicinity of Recht. The woods are so thick that he needs almost an infantry platoon to protect three tanks sitting out there. Dismounted infantry in foxholes control the intersection at Poteau but [it is] covered by enemy fire." Nevertheless the Poteau road junction was denied the enemy, and by the close of day patrols had established contact between CCR, to the west, and CCA.


At St. Vith enemy pressure failed to increase during the 19th, and the American commanders took advantage of the breathing spell to reassess their dispositions for defense. The two CCB commanders, Clarke and Hoge, given a free hand by General Jones and General Hasbrouck, agreed that in the event of any future withdrawal CCB, 9th Armored Division, might be trapped as it then stood because Hoge's combat command, deployed southeast of St. Vith, had no roads for a direct move westward and would be forced to retire through St. Vith. Clarke would hold as long as possible east of the town, but with both combat commands in its streets St. Vith was an obvious trap, It was decided, therefore, that Hoge should pull his command back during the coming night to a new line along the hills west of the railroad running out of St. Vith, thus conforming on its left with CCB, 7th Armored.


The withdrawal was carried out as planned. A small German attack hit the right flank just as the move was being