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retain a kampfgruppe of the 9th Panzer southeast of Bastogne as a link with the Seventh Army, now hard pressed by the American counterattack from the south. The sense of urgency heightened as the day wore on-it can almost be plotted like a fever chart in the exchanges between Rundstedt and Model: Rundstedt demanding that the Sixth Panzer Army get its armored divisions forward and alongside Manteuffel's spearhead before the Allies can counterattack from both south and north; Rundstedt ordering that the Allied forces be destroyed east of the Meuse before they can organize a major counter-effort; Model telling Rundstedt that the 2d Panzer has run short of motor fuel and that he has ordered the advance guard to march for the Meuse on foot. (One has the impression-it can never be verified-that as tension mounted Model commenced to turn to the older and more experienced field marshal for moral support.)


General Manteuffel faced a military and political dilemma as day drew to a close on 24 December. Janus-like, his Fifth Panzer Army faced toward the Marche plateau and the road to Dinant and toward Bastogne. Manteuffel later would say that he saw no opportunity for a successful battle west of the Meuse (although he still hoped for military success east of the river), but the decision as to which direction the Fifth Panzer would throw its weight obviously had to be made by Hitler himself. This appeal to the highest German authority was made through various channels by Manteuffel and his chief of staff, Wagener, on the 24th and 25th. Hitler's order, as relayed to the Fifth Panzer headquarters by Jodl early on the 25th, told Manteuffel to put all available forces