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the 5th passed through, supporting the 5th's attack by fire wherever possible. Finally, the 2d Cavalry Group (reinforced), which was just moving into the new XII Corps area from the old, would take over the extended Moselle flank on the right of the corps. This had been a constant concern to General Barton during the 4th Division battles and had absorbed battalions of the 22d Infantry badly needed on the fighting line. The artillery support planned for the attack included fifteen battalions of corps artillery plus the organic battalions in the divisions. The mechanized units available represented considerable strength: two combat commands of the 10th Armored Division with CCA of the 9th Armored Division attached; two separate tank battalions; five tank destroyer battalions, of which three were self-propelled; and two cavalry squadrons.


The German LXXX Corps faced the XII Corps with two divisions in the line anchored on the Sauer and no corps reserve. The deep valley of the Schwarz Erntz remained the boundary between these divisions, constituting as it had in earlier fighting an ever present physical obstacle to a homogeneous corps front and coordinated maneuver. On the right the 276th Volks Grenadier Division was engaged in small-scale attacks near Savelborn and Christnach. The extreme left or eastern wing of this division was not solidly anchored, and all attempts to break out of the Schwarz Erntz gorge and bring the left forward in conformity with the advance of the neighboring division had been thwarted. The result was that the 212th Volks Grenadier Division, on the right, occupied a south-facing line stepped forward of the 276th and precariously open at its western end. To cover this gap the 423d Regiment had spread thin, so thin that its main line of resistance was little more than a series of smallish strongpoints. As a result the LXXX Corps' order shortening the 212th line by withdrawal on the night of 21 December was issued with the intention of contracting the 423d to give more body to absorb the American punches when they came.


The Echternach bridgehead, expanded toward Michelshof, was defended by the 320th Infantry and the division fusilier battalion. The far left wing of the division and corps was tied to the Sauer by the 999th Penal Battalion. On paper, General Sensfuss' 212th Volks Grenadier Division had a third regiment, the 316th, but although this unit had helped establish the bridgehead it was the Seventh Army reserve and not even the corps commander could use it freely. The field replacement battalions belonging to the LXXX Cops were almost completely drained by the heavy losses incurred in the infantry regiments. The rifle companies of the two line divisions numbered about forty men apiece. Each division had only one light and one medium field artillery battalion in direct support; the corps had perhaps five battalions, plus one Werfer brigade. Probably the bulk of this firepower had displaced across the river to positions directly behind the divisions. The infantry companies had fought during the first days without the aid of assault guns, but a few of these and two companies of antitank guns reached the LXXX Corps just before the American attack on the 24th.


The Seventh Army, and more particularly Beyer's corps, began the Ardennes battle as the kitchen maid in the scullery