United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations

The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge

by Hugh M. Cole

. . . to Those Who Served

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: The Origins

Hitler’s Perspective, September 1944—How the Plan Was Born

Chapter 2: Planning the Counteroffensive

Details of the Plan—The Big Solution—A Double Envelopment?

Chapter 3: Troops and Terrain

The Order of Battle—The Allies Return to the Attack—The Terrain

Chapter 4: Preparations

Deception and Camouflage—The Western Front in Early December—The Intelligence Failure—The German Concentration

Chapter 5: The Sixth Panzer Army Attack

The 99th Division Sector—The Initial Attack, 16 December—The First Attacks in the Monschau–Höfen Sector are Repulsed, 16 December—The German Effort Continues, 17-18 December—Losheimergraben is Lost—The German Attack Toward Rocherath and Krinkelt, 16–17 December—The 395th Infantry Conforms to the Withdrawal—The 2nd Division Gives Up the Wahlerscheid Attack—The 394th Infantry Abandons the Mürringen Position

Chapter 6: The German Northern Shoulder is Jammed

The 2nd Division Withdraws—The 1st Infantry Division Sends Reinforcements to Butgenbach—The Defense of the Twin Villages, 18 December—The Last Attack at Höfen Fails, 18 December—The 2nd Division Withdraws to the Elsenborn Line, 19 December—The Enemy Tries the Western Flank, 19–23 December

Chapter 7: Breakthrough at the Schnee Eifel

Introductory Note—Dispositions of the 106th Infantry Division—Enemy Preparations for Another Cannae—The Attack in the Losheim Gap—The Attack Hits the 106th Division—The 424th Infantry and CCB, 9th Armored—Cannae in the Schnee Eifel—The Question of Air Resupply

Chapter 8: The Fifth Panzer Army Attacks the 28th Infantry Division

The 110th Infantry Sector, 16–18 December—The 112th Infantry Sector, 16–20 December—The Fall of Wiltz

Chapter 9: The Attack by the German Left Wing: 16–20 December

The 109th Infantry Defense on the Sauer and Our Rivers, 16–20 December—Elements of the 9th Armored Division Battle at the Sauer, 16–20 December

Chapter 10: The German Southern Shoulder is Jammed

The German Thrust Begins—Southern Flank—A Summing Up

Chapter 11: The 1st SS Panzer Division’s Dash Westward, and Operation Greif

Kampfgruppe Peiper on the Move—Operation Greif

Chapter 12: The First Attacks at St. Vith

The 7th Armored Division Move to St. Vith—The Enemy Strikes at the St. Vith Perimeter

Chapter 13: VIII Corps Attempts to Delay the Enemy

CCR, 9th Armored Division, and the Road to Bastogne—The Advance of the XLVII Panzer Corps—Team Cherry on the Longvilly Road—The 101st Airborne Division Moves Into Bastogne

Chapter 14: The VIII Corps Barrier Lines

Middleton’s First Moves—The Gap North of Bastogne—Defense Southwest of Bastogne—Renewed Drive Around Bastogne

Chapter 15: The German Salient Expands to the West

The 30th Division Meets Peiper—The West Flank of the XVIII Airborne Corps, 20 December—Action in Front of the XVIII Airborne Corps Right Wing, 20 December—The Net Closes on Peiper

Chapter 16: One Threat Subsides; Another Emerges

The Attempt To Relieve Peiper’s Kampfgruppe—The 3rd Armored Division is Checked, 21–23 December—The Fight at the Baraque de Fraiture Crossroads, 23 December

Chapter 17: St. Vith is Lost

The Defenders of St. Vith Pass to the XVIII Airborne Corps—The Enemy Closes on the St. Vith Salient—The Final Withdrawal From the St. Vith Sector

Chapter 18: The VII Corps Moves to Blunt the Salient

Division of the Battlefield—The VII Corps Assembles—German Armor Advances on the VII Corps—The Main Battle is Joined, 24 and 25 December

Chapter 19: The Battle of Bastogne

The Initial Deployment East of Bastogne—Bastogne is Encircled—The Enemy Begins a Concentric Attack—The Battle on Christmas Day

Chapter 20: The XII Corps Attacks the Southern Shoulder

The End of the Defensive Battle, 22 December—The XII Corps Moves to Luxembourg—The XII Corps’ Counterattack

Chapter 21: The III Corps’ Counterattack Toward Bastogne

Preparations for the Attack—The 80th Division Advance—The 26th Infantry Division Attack—The 4th Armored Division Attack—The 80th Division Battle in the Woods, 25–26 December—The 26th Division Fight for a Bridgehead on the Sure, 24–27 December—The 4th Armored Division Reaches Bastogne

Chapter 22: The Battle Before the Meuse

The Meuse River Line—The Meuse Seems Within Reach—The Celles Pocket—The Fight at Humain—The Fight at Verdenne

Chapter 23: The Battle Between the Salm and the Our: 24 December–2 January

The Battle at the Manhay Crossroads—The Fight in the Aisne Valley—The 2nd SS Panzer is Halted—The 82nd Airborne Withdraws From the Salm River Line—“The Sad Sack Affair”—The Elsenborn Shoulder

Chapter 24: The Third Army Offensive

Widening the Bastogne Corridor—The Opposing Grand Tactics—The Sibret–Villeroux Actions—The Two Attacks Collide—The III Corps Joins the Attack—The Lone Battle of the 26th Division—The VIII Corps’ Attack Continues

Chapter 25: Epilogue

The Weather—The Opposing Troop Strengths—The Opposing Weapons—The Artillery Arm in the Ardennes—The Air Weapon—Logistics—The Turning Point in the Ardennes—The Place of the Ardennes Offensive in World War II

Appendix A: Table of Equivalent Ranks

Appendix B: Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross

Bibliographical Note




I: The Ardennes Counteroffensive: The German Plan, December 1944

II: The Sixth Panzer Army Attack, 16–19 December 1944

III: The LXVI Corps Attacks the 106th Infantry Division, 16–19 December 1944

IV: The Fifth Panzer Army Attacks the 28th Infantry Division, 16–19 December 1944

V: The Seventh Army Attack, 16–19 December 1944

VI: Bastogne, 19–23 December 1944

VII: The XVIII Airborne Corps Sector, 21–23 December 1944

VIII: Between the Salm and the Meuse, 24–27 December 1944

IX: The Southern Shoulder, 22–26 December 1944

X: Widening the Bastogne Corridor, 24 December 1944–2 January 1945

Inline Maps

1: The Western Front, 15 December 1944

2: The XVIII Airborne Corps Meets Kampfgruppe Peiper, 20–25 December 1944

3: The XVIII Airborne Corps West Flank, 20 December 1944

4: Bastogne, 25–26 December 1944


Adolf Hitler—Generaloberst Alfred Jodl—Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt—Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model—Noville—Stolzemberg—Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur W. Tedder, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery—Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton—Panzerkampfwagens V (Panther) on the Way to the Front—Generaloberst der Waffen-SS Josef Dietrich—Snow Scene Near Krinkelt—Losheimergraben—Constructing a Winterized Squad Hut—Camouflaged Pillbox Serving as Command Post—Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow—2nd Division Infantrymen on the March—26th Infantry Area Near Butgenbach—Captured German Tank Crewman—99th Infantry Division Vehicles Moving Through Wirtzfeld—Gun Position on Elsenborn Ridge—Wrecked German Tank Showing “Bazooka Pants”—American Prisoners—General der Panzertruppen Hasso von Manteuffel—General der Panzertruppen Heinrich F. Lüttwitz—German Troops Passing Abandoned American Equipment—Clerf—Ouren, Showing Bridges—Wiltz—Ettelbruck—Cave Refuge for Civilians—Wallendorf—Belgian Woman Salvaging Burned Grain—Breitweiler—Lt. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges—Kampfgruppe Peiper—Massacred American Soldiers Near Malmédy—Traffic Jam in St. Vith Area—Railroad Yards at Gouvy—Antitank Gunners Guarding a Crossing, Vielsalm—Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe—Paratroopers of 101st Airborne Near Bastogne—La Roche and the Ourthe River—Combat Engineer Setting a Charge—Amblève River Bridge at Stavelot—Maj. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway and Maj. Gen. James M. Gavin—Troops of 325th Glider Infantry Moving Through Fog—Stoumont—Mined Bridge at Malmédy—German Tank Disguised as an American Tank—105-mm. Howitzers M7 in Action Near La Gleize—Baraque de Fraiture—St. Vith—Chérain—Tanks of the 7th Armored Division Near St. Vith—Car Bearing General Bradley Fords a Belgian River—Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, Field Marshal Montgomery, and General Ridgway—Hotton—MP’s Checking Vehicles Near Marche—Captured German 88-mm. Gun—Bastogne—Casualties in an Improvised Emergency Ward—Supply by Air—A Bastogne Street After Luftwaffe Bombardment—Maj. Gen. Manton S. Eddy—Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr—5th Infantry Division Troops Moving Toward the Front—A White Phosphorus Burst—Scheidgen—White-Clad 11th Infantry Troops Attack Toward Haller—Müllerthal—Berdorf—Maj. Gen. John Millikin—Heiderscheidergrund Bridge—Watching a Dogfight Between American and Luftwaffe Planes—4th Armored Division Rolling Toward Chaumont—Esch-sur-Sure—American Troops in Tintange—German Prisoners Carrying Wounded—British Tank Patrolling the Meuse at Namur—Civilian Refugees at Dinant Bridge—Marche—2nd Armored Division Infantrymen Moving to New Positions—Prime Mover Towing 8-Inch Howitzer—Manhay Crossroads—Elements of 3rd Armored Division Advancing Near Manhay—Troops of the 84th Infantry Division Digging In—Destruction of Grandménil—Supplies Moving Through Bastogne—Massed Half-Tracks—35th Infantry Division Machine Gunners—Bed Sheets Used as Camouflage—6th Armored Division Tanks in Snowstorm—Medics Removing Casualties, Lutrebois—Kaundorf

All photographs are from Department of Defense files with the exception of the photograph on page 76 (General Dietrich) reproduced through the courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the one on page 174 (General Von Lüttwitz) taken from captured German records in the National Archives.

Office of the Chief of Military History

Department Of The Army

Washington, D.C., 2000

United States Army in World War II

Advisory Committee (as of 1 July, 1964)

Fred C. Cole, Washington and Lee University

Lt. Gen. August Schomburg, Industrial College of the Armed Forces

James A. Field, Jr., Swarthmore College

Maj. Gen. Hugh M. Exton, U.S. Continental Army Command

Earl Pomeroy, University of Oregon

Brig. Gen. Ward S. Ryan, U.S. Army War College

Theodore Ropp, Duke University

Brig. Gen. Elias C. Townsend, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

Lt. Col. Thomas E. Griess, United States Military Academy

Office of the Chief of Military History

Brig. Gen. Hal. C. Pattison,

Chief of Military History

Chief Historian, Stetson Conn

Chief, Histories Division, Col. Albert W. Jones

Chief, Editorial and Graphics Division, Col. Walter B. McKenzie

Editor-in-Chief, Joseph R. Friedman