attackers. Concentration after concentration poured in on the buildings that sheltered the garrison troops, killing, maiming, and demoralizing the grenadiers. Those of the enemy who could not escape surrendered in groups to the first Americans they could find.
When the 80th Division got its orders on 5 January to resume the attack, it could look back on a record of important accomplishment. It had contained and badly mauled two German divisions, had helped delay and cripple the Fuehrer Grenadier Brigade, on its way to enter the Bastogne battle, and had advanced sixteen miles and erased the Ettelbruck bridgehead, so important in the communications system of the Seventh Army.
The 26th Division Fight for a Bridgehead on the Sure 24-27 December
The 26th Division had not yet been able to push patrols through the woods to the Sure River when morning dawned on 24 December. Two companies of the 80th Division had crossed into the division zone and were waiting on the river near Heiderscheidergrund, but the foremost troops of the 26th Division were at Dellen, three and a half miles away, while the main force still was around Grosbous. Although small pockets of German riflemen fought stubbornly in the woods there seemed to be no cohesive, planned resistance by the enemy. To get the attack rolling and out of the woods, however, the Americans had to open the main road to the Sure. And to open the road they had to capture the town of Eschdorf.
There are many trails and byroads leading to the Sure but they become lost in deep, twisting ravines or run blindly through dense timber. All at this time were clogged by snow and ice. The road to Eschdorf follows a well-defined ridge and for much of its length gives a clear field of vision on both sides. Eschdorf, a town with perhaps two thousand people, is built on three hills which rise well above the surrounding countryside and give excellent observation over open ground for a halfmile to a mile in every direction. The ascent to the town is made across ridge folds. The main road coming in from the south turns away east to Heiderscheid and the Sauer crossing at Bourscheid, but other roads, three in all, continue north to the Sure River, one leading to the bridge at Heiderscheidergrund.
The road net centering at Eschdorf was very important in the German plans to hold the Seventh Army blocking position south of the Sure. Originally Brandenberger hoped to use the town as a concentration point for a counterattack by the Fuehrer Grenadier Brigade along the road to Martelange. The brigade, as recounted earlier, had started this move by piecemeal commitment while the main body still was on the march to the front, but when the 26th Division banged into the Fuehrer Grenadier advance guard southwest of Eschdorf a part of the leading battalion was cut off and the way to Martelange effectively barred. The staff of the LXXXV Corps therefore drew new plans on the night of the 23d to conform with Brandenberger's order that the American attack must be checked south of the Sure. The idea was that the Fuehrer Grenadier Brigade, on the west, and the 79th Volks Grenadier Division, from the