shelling. Kampfgruppe Kunkel rode roughshod into the artillery assembly areas north and west of Sibret, coming upon guns hooked to their prime movers, motors turning, and all the signs of hurried exodus. Kunkel reported the capture of more than a score of artillery pieces, much ammunition and many prisoners. Quickly the kampfgruppe moved on Senonchamps, leaving only a small force to protect its left flank by a drive toward Chenogne.
The 26th Reconnaissance Battalion was not alone west of Bastogne. During the previous night the reconnaissance battalion of the Panzer Lehr Division had been relieved at Wardin, strengthened by the attachment of the division engineer battalion, and started on a march around the south side of Bastogne as advance guard in the resumption of the Panzer Lehr attack toward the Meuse. This Panzer Lehr task force had orders to scout in the direction of St. Hubert, the key to the road complex west of Bastogne. Following the 26th Reconnaissance Battalion through Sibret, the Panzer Lehr column turned northwest and fanned out on the eastern side of the Ourthe River in the neighborhood of Amberloup and Tillet. There were numerous fords and crossing sites along this stretch of the river, but the enemy was concerned with securing good roads and bridges for the heavy columns following.
The approaches to St. Hubert were defended on the 21st by the 35th Engineer Combat Battalion (Lt. Col. Paul H. Symbol), which had barricaded the northern entrance from Ortheuville and erected a strongpoint (held by Company C) at a crossroad in a loop of the Ourthe north of the village of Moircy. This latter defense barred the most direct line of march between Bastogne and St. Hubert. A company of German infantry and four tanks appeared in front of the Company C abatis and foxholes before 0900, but two of the tanks were rendered hors de combat by a bazooka team and the action turned into a small arms duel. For some reason the attackers were not immediately reinforced, perhaps because there were other and more attractive targets in the vicinity. The 724th Engineer Base Depot Company, earlier manhandling supplies in the depots at St. Hubert, marched in to thicken the American firing line, and by noon the fight had dwindled to an occasional exchange of shots. During the lull of early afternoon the 158th Engineer Combat Battalion and the tank destroyers which had retreated from Ortheuville to St. Hubert were ordered south to take over the defense of Libramont. The 35th was left alone to blockade and delay a possible thrust by the 2d Panzer Division forces now crossing at Ortheuville or the more direct threat from the east.
During the morning roving detachments of the Panzer Lehr task force had enjoyed a field day. For one thing they seized a large truck convoy, perhaps sixty to eighty vehicles, en route to Bastogne. They also surrounded the 58th Armored Field Artillery Battalion near Tillet, although no serious attempt was made to eradicate it. The bulk of the German task force crossed the Ourthe north of the Company C strongpoint but found that the American engineers had done a remarkably thorough job of blocking the roads leading to St. Hubert. Abatis (mined and boobytrapped), blown culverts, stretches corduroyed with felled trees, and extensive mine