to the south, in turn, by the 393d Infantry and the 394th. Conforming to the wooded contour, the elements of the 99th Division south of the 2d Division attacking column occupied a slight salient bellying out from the flanks.
Two battalions of the 99th Division (the 1st and 2d of the 395th) took part in the attack begun on 13 December, although other elements of the division put on demonstrations to create some diversion to their immediate front. The 2d Battalion, 395th, on the right of the 2d Division jumped off in deep snow and bitter cold in an attack intended to swing north, wedge through the West Wall bunker line, and seize Harperscheid on the southern fork of the road beyond the forest. The advance on the 13th went well; then, as the attack hit the German bunkers and enemy guns and mortars ranged in, the pace began to slow. By 16 December, however, several important positions were in American hands and it seemed that a breakthrough was in the making despite bad weather, poor visibility, and difficult terrain.
The German troops manning the West Wall positions in front of the 2d and 99th Divisions had been identified prior to the 13 December attack as coming from the 277th Volks Grenadier Division and the 294th Regiment of the 18th Volks Grenadier Division. An additional unit was identified on the second day of the offensive when prisoners were taken who carried the pay books of the 326th Volks Grenadier Division. Although this was the only indication of any German reinforcement, American commanders and intelligence officers anticipated that a counterattack shortly would be made against the shoulders of the 2d Division corridor held by the 99th, but that this would be limited in nature and probably no more than regimental in strength. The immediate and natural reaction, therefore, to the German attack launched against the 99th Division on the morning of the fourth day of the V Corps offensive (16 December) was that this was no more than the anticipated riposte.
The Initial Attack, 16 December
To the south of the 393d Infantry, the 394th (Col. Don Riley) held a defensive sector marking the right flank terminus for both the 99th Division and V Corps. The 6,500-yard front ran along the International Highway from a point west of Neuhof, in enemy hands, south to Losheimergraben. Nearly the entire line lay inside the forest belt. On the right a two-mile gap existed between the regiment and the forward locations of the 14th Cavalry Group. To patrol this gap the regimental I and R Platoon held an outpost on the high ground slightly northwest of Lanzerath and overlooking the road from that village. Thence hourly jeep patrols worked across the gap to meet patrols dispatched by the cavalry on the other side of the corps boundary. Acutely aware of the sensitive nature of this southern flank, General Lauer had stationed his division reserve (3d Battalion of the 394th) near the Buchholz railroad station in echelon behind the right of the two battalions in the line. The fateful position of the 394th would bring against it the main effort of the I SS Panzer Corps and, indeed, that of the Sixth Panzer Army. Two roads ran obliquely through the regimental area. One, a main road, intersected the north-south International Highway (and the