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days of heavy fighting, its last reserves had been used up, and the events of the day just ended seemed to presage a hardening of the enemy's resolve.


The critical section of the main line of resistance was that marked by the villages of Scheidgen, Michelshof, and Osweiler. Here the line was defended by elements of the 1st and 3d Battalions, 12th Infantry, the regimental antitank company, and part of the 159th Engineer Battalion. During the afternoon of the 21st the 212th Volks Grenadier Division had used one rifle regiment and the divisional fusilier battalion (both at low strength) in the attempt to take the three villages and the commanding ground on which they stood, ground that represented the final objective of the 212th. General Barton, therefore, planned to meet the German threat by sending the 10th Infantry into attack astride the road from Michelshof to Echternach, the two attack battalions jumping off at noon from the crossroad Scheidgen-Michelshof. This line of departure was occupied by two rifle companies, four tanks, and five platoons of engineers.


Through the morning of the 22d enemy batteries busily shelled the area just behind the American positions. The attack by the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 10th Infantry never really got going. The 2d Battalion on the left of the road deployed some three hundred yards behind the assigned line of departure and started forward just as the Germans began an assault against the small force dug in on the line. German guns supporting the grenadiers made any movement in formation impossible. As it was, the bulk of the two fresh companies reached the line about the same time that the German assault waves struck. The troops on the line were able to beat the enemy back, but not before the 2d Battalion troops had been deflected to the right and left by the enemy onrush. Considerably disorganized, the two companies hurriedly dug in just to the south of the original American covering force.


On the right of the road the 1st Battalion was faced with thick woods and very rough ground. During the morning reconnaissance parties had come forward to look over the route of advance but had been foiled by a thick ground fog and alert enemy gunners. When the battalion deployed for the advance to the line of departure it ran into trouble, for the company next to the road came under the artillery concentration laid down in support of the German assault just described and suffered a number of casualties. Control in woods and ravines was difficult and the company drifted across the road behind the 2d Battalion. It was growing dark when the 1st Battalion finally reorganized and dug in, still short of the line of departure. The intense artillery and Werfer fire by enemy gunners throughout the day, together with the infantry assault of the afternoon, had been designed to cover the 212th Volks Grenadier Division while it withdrew from the exposed position in the Scheidgen salient. Fresh American reinforcements had been held in check; the German withdrawal had been successful.


General Eddy telephoned General Irwin during the evening to say that he planned to use the 5th Division as part of a corps attack to drive the Germans back over the Sauer in the angle formed by the Sauer and Moselle Rivers. Irwin's whole division was in Luxembourg but somewhat dispersed. The 11th Infantry had taken over the reserve battle positions north of Luxembourg City formerly occupied by the 80th Division. The 2d Infantry, having left the XX Corps' bridgehead with only minor incident, [7] was assembled around Junglinster, ready with trucks and attached tank destroyers for use as the corps' mobile reserve. Given time to assemble, the fresh 5th Division could take over from Barton's battle-weary 4th. That night Irwin and his staff pored over maps and march orders for the attack to clear the enemy from the near side of the Sauer, an attack scheduled for the morning of 24 December.


In the interim the two battalions of the 10th Infantry began their second day of action, a clear day but bitter cold with snow underfoot. On the right the 1st Battalion made some progress, but one company lost its way in the heavy woods and a gap opened between the battalions. The main difficulty encountered by both battalions was that of negotiating the heavy belt of timber which lay to the front and in which a relatively small number of the enemy could put up a fight out of all relation to their actual strength. Further, the American advance followed a series of parallel ridge lines; screened by the woods the Germans could and did filter along the draws separating the American companies and take them on individually.