selves in the cellars, but most of the battalion finally had to pull back. A number of prisoners were later rounded up by the Americans on the Recht road. The second German assault was made in a more methodical manner. First, mortars went to work against houses and foxholes. Then the German tank group, which had been delayed by a mine field, and an infantry company or two swung to the west and rolled down the main road into the village. The Sherman tanks on the Recht road were caught in masked positions from which they could not return the panzer fire coming in from higher ground, and the troops in Rodt could not stand alone against the Panthers. The enemy took the village quickly, and with it many of the half-tracks belonging to the 48th Armored Infantry Battalion.
Word that the St. Vith-Vielsalm road had been cut at Rodt reached Lt. Col. Vincent L. Boylan, Commanding Officer, 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, who took charge of the few troops of CCB remaining north of St. Vith on the wide open flank. Boylan got orders from Clarke to withdraw south at once. Despite a brush with Remer's group and the loss of several tanks in the swampy ground south of Rodt the command reached Crombach and Hinderhausen, where General Clarke was building a second line of defense. This line was now gravely endangered on its open north flank by the German position astride the ridge at Rodt.
In the meantime, Colonel Rosebaum, the CCA commander, sent two of his tank companies east of Poteau to engage Remer's tanks. In a longdistance duel along the ridge the Shermans were out-ranged. Rosebaum asked for some tank destroyers, hoping to stop the Panthers if they should turn west from Rodt. Remer's objective, however, was not in that direction.
All during the morning of 22 December American observers had watched enemy troops and vehicles milling around Recht, just to the north of Poteau. Here the first identification was made of the 9th SS Panzer Division. This fresh armored division was in fact moving its main strength west from Recht toward the Salm River and collision with the 82d Airborne Division, but a kampfgruppe had been dropped off to cover the south flank of the division by attacking in the direction of Vielsalm. With the discovery of this new enemy force in the north and the knowledge that the only route of withdrawal remaining to CCA was along the road from Poteau to Vielsalm, Colonel Rosebaum gave over the effort against the Fuehrer Begleit armor and gathered the major part of his command in a circular defense around the Poteau crossroads. As yet he had only vague information of the serious situation confronting the American troops in the south and southeast.
The capture of Rodt left General Clarke no alternative but further withdrawal. In the early afternoon the sketchy line just west of St. Vith was abandoned and CCB fell back to the secondary position which had been under preparation since the early morning hours. The villages of Hinderhausen and Crombach, on which this position was based, both offered emergency exits to the west along dirt roads and trails. The three task forces organized along the new line nominally represented a total of five medium tank companies, a