Dom Butgenbach, Belgium. After three days of intense fighting, the Divisions of the US V Corps were begining their withdrawal through Wirtzfeld to prepared positions along Elsenborn Ridge. The German 6th Panzer Army had suffered heavy casualties in their effort to break the American 99th and 2nd Infantry Divisions, and had little to show for it. While the Divisions of V Corps fought off the 6th Panzer Army's westward advance, it was becoming clear that the front line would have to be extended westward in order to protect the flank of the American forces manning Elsenborn Ridge. The veteran US 1st Infantry Division was quickly moved south, and two of its Regiments began taking up positions west of the US 2nd Infantry Division. The 26 RCT was assigned to protect the town of Butgenbach. Holding this town was absolutely critical, since a penetration there would unhinge the defenses along Elsenborn Ridge. The lead battalions of the 26th arrived on December 17th, and began preparing a defensive line between the towns of Bullingen and Butgenbach. In the meantime, both sides probed at the other's positions, the Americans confirming that Bullingen was firmly in German hands, and the Germans establishing that American reinforcements were now blocking the route towards Butgenbach. With the 6th Panzer Army offensive in the sector between Monschau and Elsenborn faltering, the Germans shifted elements of the 12SS Panzer Divison and 12 VG into Bullingen; these troops began to assemble in the town during the night of December 18th. Their emphasis would now be on a strike towards Butgenbach in an effort to unhinge the American northern shoulder of "the Bulge". Several days of intense fighting in this region were to follow. This scenario depicts the first attack in strength by German forces towards Butgenbach, which began at 0225 on December 19.