were left in the town and another twenty-five had been killed or captured. But the Panzer Lehr commander, who had fought in both engagements, would later rate the American defense in Rochefort as comparable in courage and in significance to that at Bastogne. Significantly, the Panzer Lehr Reconnaissance Battalion carried the attack for the Meuse without any help from the rest of the division until after midnight, when the 902d finally reached the Buissonville area.
Buissonville had been the primary objective of the 2d Armored Division when Harmon first propelled his CCA into action. True, Rochefort was the goal when CCA resumed its march on the morning of the 24th, but Buissonville first had to be brought under American control. A glance at the map will show the reason why.
The village lay in a valley where the Dinant-Rochefort highway dipped down, but in addition it controlled the entry to that highway of a secondary road net running west from the Marche-Rochefort road. The hamlet of Humain, four miles to the east, was the nodal point of this secondary system.
During the night the Humain-Buissonville road had been jammed with German columns from the 2d Panzer reconnaissance battalion and advance guard. But now the wealth of good, hard-surfaced roads which characterize this part of Belgium came into play. Entering the main highway at Buissonville, the German units had gone north for about a mile, then made a V-turn back onto a secondary road running straight west to Conjoux, a village four miles south of Ciney. The Belgian telephone operator at Conjoux attempted to get word of this movement to the Americans, but the message had to pass surreptitiously through a number of hands and did not reach the 2d Armored command post until the afternoon of the 24th. The CCA sortie from Ciney, as a result, was being made obliquely to the German axis of advance and would intersect the enemy line of march at Buissonville only after the leading kampfgruppe of the 2d Panzer had passed on to the west.
This is not to say that Collier's task forces encountered no opposition when CCA resumed the attack on the morning of the 24th. Flank guard and blocking detachments backed by tanks had been left to screen the 2d Panzer line of communications on the north and these had to be disposed of. Furthermore, CCA had to proceed with some caution, feeling out to the flanks as it went; indeed General Harmon added a reconnaissance company to Collier's command because "the situation is changing all the time." The leading American task force reached Buissonville in early afternoon and formed for an assault to encircle the village from the north. By chance the second task force, advancing in echelon on the right flank, had run into antitank fire and, in process of maneuvering onto a ridge overlooking the German guns, saw its sister detachment moving into the attack. An enemy column, coming in from Havrenne, appeared about the same time on the opposite side of the village.
While the American attack swept through and round Buissonville, the tank and tank destroyer crews on the ridge opened fire, laying their guns at four thousand yards, and directing the salvos crashing in from the field batteries