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tle under other commands). The fall of Wiltz on the night of 19 December had written finis to the story of the 110th Infantry, Cota's single remaining regiment. On the morning of the 20th Cota had gone into Bastogne, finding its streets jammed with vehicles, corps artillery trying to bull a way through, and a host of stragglers, including many of the survivors of the 110th Infantry. General Middleton gave Cota permission to get his people out of Bastogne and the latter ordered them out on foot, abandoning to the traffic jam those vehicles still in their possession. (So impressed was General Cota by the traffic choking the streets and alleys of Bastogne, that he advised the VIII Corps commander to keep all contingents of the 4th Armored Division out of the town.)


Despite McAuliffe's failure to secure the immediate assistance which would make a full-bodied counterattack feasible, it seemed that the tactical problem facing the 101st on the evening of 20 December remained linear, that is, the creation of a homogeneous and defensible line barring entrance to Bastogne from the north and east. The corps letter of instructions reaching McAuliffe at noon on the 20th was rather more sweeping in its definition of mission. "There will be no withdrawal"this was clear enough to all concerned. "The [1015t Airborne] Division will stabilize their front lines on the front P798945 [that is, Recht] to St. Vith, south along a general line east of [Highway] N15 . . . to connect with the 4th Infantry Division at Breitweiler." It may be assumed that neither Middleton nor McAuliffe took this part of the order either literally or seriously. There had been a few indications, and rumors, of enemy activity west of Bastogne-indeed the 101st had lost some of its trains in the division assembly area during the previous night-but thus far all this could be charged to raiding parties roaming on the loose under cover of night in a fluid and changing battle. In early evening a report reached Bastogne that the road northwest to La Roche and Ortheuville (where two platoons of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion now attached to the 101st were operating) was free of the enemy. The roads south to Neufchateau and Arlon were still open-and waiting for traverse by the 4th Armored. So the situation looked in McAuliffe's Bastogne headquarters at 1900 on 20 December.


Across the lines the German commander, Luettwitz, was none too pleased by the rather dilatory operations of his corps. He knew by this time that the American front east of Bastogne had stiffened and that his troops had been able to find no holes. On the other hand the strength of his corps was increasing by the hour as the two divisions hauled their tails up on the muddy roads-it looked as though he had the forces needed for maneuver. As a last flick of the hand Luettwitz ordered Bayerlein to throw the 902d into the night attack against Neffe. This was at most a diversion, for Luettwitz had decided to envelope Bastogne from the south and west. He intended to use the bulk of the Panzer Lehr, leaving only one of its grenadier regiments to flesh out the eastern front with the foot elements of Kokott's 26th Volks Grenadier Division, but in addition he had in hand the 39th Volks Grenadier Regiment of the 26th which had just come up behind the corps'