Over the Rhine and Beyond
In the end it is the result of the manner in which the cards are played or the battle fought that is put down on the score sheets and in the pages of history. Therefore I vote the skilful tactician above the strategist, especially him who plays the bad cards well
The crossing of the Rhine at Oppenheim 24 hours ahead of Montgomery in the north opposite Wesel would be the true apogee of Patton's career. He had fought his last full-dress battle. Henceforward Third Army's spectacular advance would partake more of the nature of a triumphal march, punctuated by a number of fanatical and obviously futile German attempts at further resistance, rather than the pursuit of a beaten but still unbroken enemy.
Eisenhower had set out to defeat the Germans west of the Rhine, close up with the river and cross it. In the process, despite criticism from the British CIGS Alanbrooke, he had realised his highest hopes. In February and March 21st Army Group had had 23,000 casualties and taken 50,000 prisoners; 12th Army Group had suffered the highest losses (nearly 40,000) but had captured the largest number of prisoners (over 185,000); for Sixth Army Group the figures were 33,000 with 47,000 prisoners. Of these totals Third Army's share is impressive—about 25,000 casualties and about 100,000 prisoners, that is, about double the number in each case captured by 21st and 6th Army Groups. By the evening of 24 March Eisenhower would have substantial and rapidly expanding bridgeheads at Wesel, Remagen, Oppenheim and Boppard. Although on paper the Germans still had 60 divisions, most of them were little more than battle