One man and one mind directed all
Polybius on Hannibal
On 4 September Eisenhower gave Patton the green light to resume his suspended offensive to breach the West Wall on the Saar and then advance in the general direction of Frankfurt. Simultaneously 21st Army Group and First Army, as the major effort, were to secure Antwerp, penetrate the West Wall north of the Ardennes and seize the Ruhr. In an office memorandum explaining these decisions he stated: 'The defeat of the German Armies is complete and the only thing now needed to realise the whole conception is speed.' In fact when on the following day Patton broke out of his bridgehead over the Moselle, with XII Corps on the right facing Nancy and xx Corps on the left east of Verdun, he faced a situation which had radically changed during the five days' halt and stepped forward into countryside which would impose restrictions on operations unknown since the breakout at Avranches—the vaguely defined province of Lorraine which lies between the Saar and the Meuse.
It is a land of ominous and bloody memories of the great French disasters of 1870, of the slaughter of Mars-la-Tour, St-Privat and Gravelotte and the capitulation of Bazaine at Metz which brought down the Second Empire. Here in August 1914 the flower of French manhood had gone to their death in the ill-starred offensive which opened the campaign. Immediately to the west lay the Argonne and the memorials of the costly American battles of October and November 1918. Three rivers, the Moselle, the Nied and the Saar, running roughly north and south, with their many tributaries traverse what is, in fact, an undulating plateau with wide open valleys often bot