The Siege of Bastogne was a pivotal engagement in December of 1944 between American and German troops at the Belgian town of Bastogne. The siege was part of the larger Battle of the Bulge, a German offensive that planned to take the harbor at Antwerp to relieve supply chain issues in the region. The German’s had their backs against the wall going into this battle, as they needed to capture the harbor before the Allied forces could bring their superior air power to bear and crush the exposed German troops. The single standing order left by Allied General Troy Middleton gave incoming General Anthony McAuliffe was “Hold Bastogne”. Both sides view Bastogne it’s surroundings as key holdings.
Before the actual siege of Bastogne, the Germans first had to cross the Our and Clerf rivers. On the evening of December 15th the 26th Volksgrenadier established a line on the west bank of the Our river. They moved quickly, allowing them to offload a large number of troops. At 5:30 in the morning the Germans coordinated an artillery strike on the Americans closest to the Our, this attack succeeded in driving the Allies back toward Bastogne. German engineers completed bridges over the Our before nightfall, and tanks began to support the front lines, making the Allies position untenable. Despite a large disparity in numbers, the Allied forces fought hard enough to slow down the much larger German force, allowing those behind the line time to prepare for the upcoming battle. By the 19th of December the Germans had drawn close enough to Wiltz, a large village south of Bastogne, that the Allies transferred their command to Bastogne itself, to protect the officers in charge. It was here, in Wiltz, that the 3rd Battalion of the 110th Airborne put up an intense resistance to the German attackers. A tiny group, no more than 500 total, held the village until nightfall, at which point they were forced to retreat under heavy shelling. The sacrifice of the 110th was valiant, but now the responsibility of retaining Bastogne fell to the rest of the Allied forces. On December 20th, the Allies dispatched a force north, to fend off an advancing German armored column. The Germans had the intention of seizing fuel dumps and a key highway. The Germans had a lot of armor to fuel and without a resupply they would soon run out. The Germans advanced with a full division of Panzers, supported by a few Tiger tanks and assorted other armor. The Allies however, were able to rout the attackers, convincing the German commander, Hienrich von Luttwitz, that the town was being defended by a much larger force. Von Luttwitz withdrew his troops, fearing destruction and unwittingly allowing the 101st Airborne to establish a defensive perimeter around Bastogne itself. The Panzer division would eventually run out of gas, leaving them to be destroyed by Allied forces later that week.
By December 21st, the 101st Airborne had encircled Bastogne with everything they had,...