Despite the worsening weather and the stiffening German resistance, Eisenhower resolved to maintain the attack throughout the winter of 1944. Writing after the war, he noted that "by continuing an unremitting offensive we would, in spite of hardship and privation, gain additional advantages over the enemy.... We were convinced that this policy would result in shortening the war and therefore in the saving of thousands of Allied lives."
The shape that the winter offensives would take was largely determined when Eisenhower conferred with Montgomery and Bradley in Brussels on 18 October to plan future Allied strategy. Orders issued on 28 October and 2 November conformed to Eisenhower's broad-front strategy, with Allied forces closing up along the length of the Rhine and extending the enemy by hitting him at every possible point. The main effort would shift from the British 21 Army Group to the U.S. 12th Army Group until Montgomery opened Antwerp to shipping. In the north, clearing the Schelde estuary remained Montgomery's focus. Then the 21 Army Group would attack east of Eindhoven towards the Ruhr to establish bridgeheads over the Rhine and the IJssel. In the center, Hodges' First Army would make the main thrust for the 12th Army Group, with the mission of establishing a bridgehead across the Rhine south of Cologne. Simpson's Ninth Army would protect the First Army's left flank between Sittard and Aachen until the Roer was crossed and then swing northeastward toward Krefeld. Bradley, leery that Eisenhower might give in to Montgomery's persistent requests for an American army to reinforce his Northern Group of Armies, had repositioned the Ninth between the First Army and the 21 Army Group on 22 October. In this way, Bradley sought to avoid the loss of the veteran First Army to Montgomery. On the First Army's right flank, Patton's Third Army would also support Hodges by advancing in a northeasterly direction. In the south, the 6th Army Group clearly had a subsidiary role. Devers' forces would advance to the Rhine, secure crossing sites, and protect the 12th Army Group's flank by denying the area of Luneville to the Germans. Once all three army groups had established bridgeheads over the Rhine, the main attack would shift back to Montgomery's sector for the drive into Germany.
Collins' VII Corps was scheduled to make the principal effort for the First Army attack on 5 November. There was, however, one nettlesome problem. The uncleared Huertgen Forest, potentially an area where the Germans could secretly assemble a counterattack force, threatened Collins' right flank. Before launching his main attack, Hodges thus decided to secure the area from Monschau to Schmidt. Since the crossroads town of Schmidt dominated the Huertgen, seizingthat town was the linchpin to this plan. Hodges gave the task of capturing Schmidt to Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow's V Corps. Gerow, in turn, passed the mission to Maj. Gen. Norman D. Cota's 28th Division.
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