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in both the corps and army headquarters, from which erupted a stream of orders and demands for greater speed. Harassed by confusing and contradictory directions, Hobbs finally had to ask that he be given orders from but one source. As it was, the 119th Infantry, still in Eupen, was alerted for Stavelot while the 120th Infantry, painfully slipped and slid along the muddy roads to Malmedy. Before trucks could arrive for the 119th Infantry Stavelot had fallen to the enemy. The First Army commander called Hobbs to Spa about noon. Before leaving Eupen, General Hobbs instructed the 119th Infantry (Col. Edward M. Sutherland) to meet him at Theux, five miles north of Spa, at which time he expected to have new orders.


General Hodges had just finished a conference with the acting commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, Maj. Gen. James M. Gavin, whose two divisions, the 82d and 101st Airborne, had started advance parties from France for the Bastogne area where, according to the initial orders from SHAEF, the divisions were to be employed. The First Army commander, under whose orders the XVIII Airborne Corps now fell, determined to divert the 82d Airborne Division to Werbomont as a backstop in case Kampfgruppe Peiper succeeded in crossing the Ambleve and Salm Rivers. The 82d, however, would not be in position before 19 December at the earliest. Meanwhile the 30th Division commander reached the First Army headquarters. In the midst of a discussion of new plans, word came in that the First Army liaison planes scudding under the clouds had seen the German armor moving north from Trois Ponts in the direction of La Gleize and Stoumont. It was apparent that the enemy had two choices: he could continue north along the Ambleve valley, thus threatening the rearward installations of the First Army; or he could turn west toward Werbomont and so present a grave menace to the assembly of the 82d. Hobbs, then, met Colonel Sutherland with First Army orders which would split the 119th Infantry, sending one force along the valley of the Ambleve, the other to Werbomont and thence to Trois Ponts.


The 119th left General Hobbs and traveled south to Remouchamps. At this point it divided, one detachment made up of the 2d Battalion and the cannon company heading for Werbomont, the second and stronger column winding along the road that descended into the Ambleve valley. The 2d Battalion reached Lienne Creek after dark and threw up hasty defenses on the hills about three miles east of Werbomont. The Germans under Peiper had been stopped at the creek earlier, it will be recalled, but the battalion was in time to ambush and destroy the separate scouting force in the late evening. The 3d Battalion, leading the truck column carrying the bulk of the combat team, reached Stoumont after dark and hurried to form a perimeter defense. Patrols pushing out from the village had no difficulty in discovering the enemy, whose pickets were smoking and talking not more than 2,000 yards away. At least forty German tanks were reported in bivouac east of the village. Under cover of darkness the remainder of the American force assembled some three miles northwest of Stoumont, while the 400th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, picked up during the march, moved its batteries forward in the dark. Both