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mism, but regardless of any pose which Patton may have assumed in the war council at Verdun he and his staff went about the business of mounting this first counterattack coolly and methodically. [2] The direction of attack already had been set by General Eisenhower, that is, north from an assembly area around Arlon. The immediate mission, assigned by the higher command after the Verdun meeting, was the "relief" of Bastogne and the use of its road net as a sally port for a drive by the Third Army to St. Vith in the larger Allied offensive. Dday for the counterattack was 22 December. It must be added that the Third Army order issued the day before the attack was rather ambitious, containing a typical Patton flourish in the prescription of an eventual wheel to the northeast and seizure of the Rhine crossings "in zone." The forces to be employed had been earmarked as early as the night of 18 December when Bradley and Patton agreed to move the new III Corps headquarters (as yet inexperienced and untried) from Metz to Arlon. The divisions given Maj. Gen. John Millikin (the 26th Infantry Division, 80th Infantry Division, and 4th Armored Division) all had been out of the line or in a quiet sector when the Third Army was ordered north, and thus were selected al- most automatically. [3]


The area chosen for the III Corps counterattack extended from the Alzette River on the east to Neufchateau in the west, a front of some thirty miles. Actually these points were not on formal boundaries but rather represent the limits within which the III Corps operation finally developed. This zone, the eastern part lying in Luxembourg, the western in Belgium, contains some of the most rugged ground in the Ardennes. East of the Arlon-Bastogne axis two deeply eroded corridors, cut by the Sure and Wiltz Rivers, form effective barriers to mechanized or motorized advance from the south. The entire area is crisscrossed with rivers and streams, but those of the tableland west of Bastogne lack the gorgelike beds found to the east. Here, as in other parts of the Ardennes,


[2] The operations of the Third Army in the Bastogne counterattack are the subject of a special journal prepared by the TUSA 3 staff (in the author's possession). In addition the TUSA chief of staff, General Gay, kept an official Third Army diary (referred to hereafter as Gay Diary), a copy of which was used by the author. The personal data on General Patton is interesting but adds little to the official records. See also George S. Patton, Jr., War As I Knew It (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1947) and Harry H. Semmes, Portrait of Patton (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1955).


[3] III Corps AR; G-2 and G-3 Jnls.