Advance and Destroy: Patton as Commander in the Bulge

By John Nelson Rickard | Go to book overview

4
Enter Patton

I called General Bradley and called his attention to the fact that the
Third Army had paid a very heavy price in blood in the hope of a
break-through at Saarlautern and Saarbruecken.… Bradley admitted
my logic but took counsel of his fears and ordered the 10th [Armored
Division] to move. I wish he were less timid.

—Patton, December 16, 1944

On December 16 Patton’s energy was focused on breaking through the West Wall. After his rapid advance across France during August, his momentum was stopped cold at the Moselle River on the last day of the month. He had no gas for his tanks. On September 2 he, Hodges, and Bradley met Eisenhower at Chartres to discuss future operations. Eisenhower was prepared to reproach Patton for stretching the Allied line too thin and exacerbating logistical difficulties. However, by the end of the meeting Bradley and Patton had coaxed permission to keep attacking east. Indeed, Eisenhower permitted Bradley to attack toward Mannheim, Koblenz, and Frankfurt, but he made it clear that First Army’s support for Montgomery’s airborne-ground operation to gain a bridgehead over the Rhine in mid-September, MARKET GARDEN, had priority when it came to supplies.1 Bradley allocated 1.5 million gallons of fuel to Third Army by September 7, and Patton thought he could charge through Lorraine. However, he quickly ran into difficulty at the Moselle River. The extensive fortifications of Metz, about which he knew precious little, proved especially challenging.

There is little doubt that had Patton been given sufficient fuel at the beginning of September, he could have advanced through Lorraine— thirty miles from the Moselle to the Saar River at its widest point—virtually unopposed and punched through the heaviest structural sections of the unmanned West Wall fortifications.2 A Third Army deployed east of the West Wall in the secondary but still important Saar industrial region

-73-

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Advance and Destroy: Patton as Commander in the Bulge
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Key to the Maps xiii
  • Series Editor’s Foreword xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Studying Patton 1
  • Part I- The Road to the Bulge 11
  • 1- Origin of the Ardennes Counteroffensive 13
  • 2- The Opposing Armies in December 1944 25
  • Part II- Panzers in the Ardennes 53
  • 3- Onslaught 55
  • 4- Enter Patton 73
  • 5- The Verdun Conference 94
  • Part III- Descent on Bastogne 111
  • 6- The Ninety-Degree Turn 113
  • 7- Third Army Attacks, December 22–23 137
  • 8- A Rendezvous with Eagles, December 24–26 166
  • Part IV- The Incomplete Victory 179
  • 9- Patton’s Alternative Lines of Action 181
  • 10- Path to Attrition, December 27–29 200
  • 11- Slugging Match, December 30–31 226
  • 12- Culmination, January 1–4 241
  • 13- The Harlange Pocket, January 5–8 261
  • 14- No Risk, No Reward, January 9–25 275
  • 15- Assessment 303
  • Appendixes 325
  • Notes 355
  • Selected Bibliography 427
  • Index of Military Units 447
  • General Index 472
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