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instead of finding a quick and easy way to cross the Ourthe by his shift to the northwest, he stood an excellent chance of running his corps into a cul-de-sac. Unwilling to continue down what might turn into a blind alley, if the Americans continued to defend Hotton as staunchly as they had during the day, General Krueger revised his plans. His southern neighbor, Lauchert's 2d Panzer Division, was reported to have seized a bridge across the western arm of the Ourthe and might be expected to move so rapidly into the Marche sector, on the west side of the main channel, that the American barrier line which Krueger had feared at the Ourthe could not be placed in operation. Krueger, therefore, ordered the 116th Panzer Division to disengage on the Soy-Hotton road, pull back as rapidly as possible to the south, and cross the Ourthe at La Roche. This town had been abandoned by the Americans during the afternoon when the 7th Armored Division trains, threatened with encirclement, crossed the river and moved to Marche, leaving only some pickets to guard the roadblocks at the various bridges.


Krueger intended to use the 560th Volks Grenadier Division to continue the attack northwest, aiming for the Ourthe crossings at Han north of Hotton. At twilight the leading elements of the 2d SS Panzer Division were in position on the right flank of the 560th. This fresh division, when assembled, was to pass to the LVIII Panzer Corps and could be used to cover the exposed eastern flank-a source of continuous concern to the corps commander. General Krueger, an experienced and intelligent officer, may not have been as hopeful of success as his plans for 22 December would indicate. He records that his command had suffered very heavy casualties during the fighting of the 21st, that troop morale was flagging, that fatigue was beginning to tell, and that, for the first time, the advance had begun to decelerate.


While Krueger laid plans for shifting the LVIII Panzer Corps armor to the west bank of the Ourthe, his opponent, General Ridgway, was issuing orders designed to strengthen and extend the XVIII Airborne Corps right wing west of the Ourthe. At dawn of the 22d, CCA of the 3d Armored Division had just completed its move to rejoin General Rose when the corps commander ordered Rose to throw out a screen on the west bank between La Roche and St. Hubert as cover for the American concentration in process around Marche. By noon a task force from CCA was en route to carry out this mission. Of the reinforcement that General Rose had counted on only one tank battalion and one company of armored infantry were left. The 3d Armored Division would have to continue the battle to establish a holding position with forces hardly stronger than those which had been driven back on the 21st. The final orders for the day were "counterattack": first, to drive the enemy out of the Soy-Hotton sector, second, to retake the hill mass at Dochamps-Samree in the center of the division zone. The job of dealing with German penetration between the Ourthe and the Aisne Rivers fell to CCR (and Task Force Hogan). For this Colonel Howze would get the battalion from the 517th Parachute Infantry as soon as it arrived. Those troops of CCA still in the division commander's hand (Task Force