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of the 16th to assess the German threat properly. Middleton seems to have felt intuitively that his thinly held corps front was being hammered by something more serious than local and limited counterattacks. By 1030 he had convinced General Hodges that CCB, 9th Armored Division, should be taken out of army reserve and turned over to the VIII Corps, for he had no armor in reserve behind the corps left flank. Shortly after noon telephone conversations with his corps liaison officers at the 106th headquarters in St. Vith convinced Middleton that he had to be ready to commit his own available corps reserves, four battalions of combat engineers and CCR, 9th Armored Division. By 1400 the 168th Engineer Combat Battalion was assembling at St. Vith and within the next few hours the remaining engineers and CCR were alerted and assembled, the latter moving up behind the corps center where, Middleton learned at 1415, all regiments of the 28th Division were under attack.


The sequence of events in the hours before midnight on the 16th is difficult to time. Middleton talked with the commander of the 106th Division by telephone and apparently believed that he, Middleton, had sanctioned a withdrawal of Jones's exposed two regiments and that such a withdrawal would be made. [1] Impressed with the growing strength of the German attack, Middleton drafted a "hold at all costs" order which left his command post at 2120 and which set the final defense line generally along the west bank of the Our, Clerf, and Sure Rivers. General Bradley, whose 12th Army Group headquarters in Luxembourg City had a better telephone link to the VIII Corps than had the First Army command post at Spa, talked with Middleton, then telephoned General Patton that the 10th Armored Division would have to come north to help Middleton's corps. At midnight General Hodges ordered the 26th Infantry attached to V Corps and set it marching for Camp Elsenborn. About the same time Hodges alerted part of the 3d Armored.


It is unlikely that the responsible American commanders slept soundly on the night of the 16th, but as yet they had no real appreciation of the magnitude of the enemy attack. The tactics followed by the Germans in the first hours had made it very difficult for even the front-line commanders to gauge the threat. The disruption of the forward communications nets by German shellfire on the morning of the 16th had led to long periods of silence at the most endangered portions of the front and a subsequent overloading, with consequent delays, of those artillery radio networks which continued to function. The initial enemy employment of small assault groups, company-size or less, had led the combat commanders on the line to visualize and report a limited-scale attack. The broken and wooded nature of the terrain in the area under attack had permitted extensive German infiltration without any American observation, which also contributed to an erroneous first estimate of the enemy forces. Finally, the speed with which the American observation or listening posts were overrun and silenced had resulted


[1] Intervs with Middleton and Capt L. B. Clarke 19 Jan 45 and 20 Apr 45; Ltr, Middleton to Col. S. L. A. Marshall, 30 Jul 45.