been formed as one of the first German Army divisions in 1935 but no longer bore much resemblance to the formation that had fought in France and Russia. Almost completely destroyed during the withdrawal from Rumania, the 9th Volks Grenadier was reorganized and trained in Denmark, whence it was transferred to the Seventh Army. The very first battalion to arrive in the Sure area had been put into action to help the Fuehrer Grenadier and had been wiped out, a traumatic experience from which the rest of the division never seems to have fully recovered.
With the 6th Armored advance just getting under way on 1 January and the 35th Division grappled by the enemy in a seesaw battle, General Millikin gave orders for the 26th Division to attack on the 2d and cut the WiltzBastogne highway, which was supporting not only the German Seventh Army but a portion of the enemy build-up east of Bastogne. General Paul determined to use his entire division in this operation. The two flank regiments were intended to make holding attacks only, leaving it to the 101st-in the center-to thrust northeast from Nothum and seize Hill 490, the latter just beyond the wooded junction where a secondary road from Roullingen met the main highway winding up from the Wiltz valley. By this time the 26th Division had learned the hard way what an attack over hills and ravines, through underbrush, tangled woods, and snowdriftswith little room for maneuver-was like. General Paul arranged for the corps and division artillery to curtain the advance with a "rolling barrage of high intensity." This tactic was made easier because only one rifle battalion (the 2d, 101st Infantry) would make the assault-and in column of companies-into the triangle where Hill 490 lay.
The 2d Battalion jumped off in the attack at daybreak and hit the German outpost line just north of Mont Schumann. Toward the hill objective, less than a thousand yards ahead, the advance could move only at a crawl, for there was little space for maneuver on either side of the road. Roadblock followed roadblock, and the rifle companies had to squeeze past each other as the leader was pinned down by enemy tank and machine gun fire. A few of the American tank destroyers were able to find firing positions from which to engage the forward German tanks but could not get close enough to blast the panzers, which had been hidden in "trench garages" around the crown of Hill 490. By noon the 2d Battalion had come to a standstill and was completely fought out. General Paul ordered up his division reserve, the 3d Battalion of the 328th, to take a crack at the enemy in the tough triangle.
This abrupt renewal of activity in front of Wiltz had a much greater impact on the Seventh Army than a battalion attack normally would occasion. General Brandenberger and his chief of staff, General von Gersdorff, had become gravely concerned lest the American attacks around Marvie and Harlange should suddenly break through and trap the 5th Parachute Division in what the Germans now were calling "the Harlange pocket." The renewal of the 26th Division attack on 2 January and the threat to the Bastogne-Wiltz road increased this apprehension about the possibly precarious position of the 5th Parachute and the link it furnished between the Seventh and Fifth Panzer