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» Wreath laying Ceremony at Dom Bütgenbach, 16 December 2005.
The advance guard of the 1st SS Panzer Division had reached Büllingen on the early morning of 17 December, by its presence threatening the open right flank and the rear of the 99th Division. Although the German armored column veered southwest, under the eyes of the astonished Americans, the presence of the enemy this deep within the bare south flank was a cause of grave concern to General Lauer and latter to General Robertson. Through the morning only a handful of engineers and headquarters personnel, backed up with single tank destroyer and antiaircraft pieces, stood in the way of a German dash north across the American rear. But the 1st SS Panzer, intent on objectives far to the west, failed to make this play. A platoon of Mark IV tanks did scout the Bütgenbach road but withdrew when three were destroyed by the few guns of Company B, 612th Tank Destroyer Battalion, which Capt. John J. Kennedy had implaced near Dom Bütgenbach.

Reinforcements from the 1st Infantry Division, as promised by the VII Corps, arrived at Camp Elsenborn about 0900, reported to the 99th Division, and were dispatched at once toward Bütgenbach. This village lay on high ground belonging to the vital Elsenborn ridge and would be the point of entry for any German thrust on the road net north of Büllingen.

(The actions fought here by the 26th Infantry involved very heavy fighting by attached tanks and tank destroyers. See especially the AAR's of the 741st and 745th Tank Battalions; the 634th 703d, and 801st Tank Destroyer Battalions).
The 26th Infantry (Col. John F.R. Seitz), which had been transferred to V Corps control the previous midnight, was the only unit thus far sent south by the 1st Division. At Elsenborn, after General Lauer had given a quick resumé of the situation, the regimental executive officer, then in command, put the 2d Battalion in the lead, sending it south to occupy two hills midway between Butgenbach and Büllingen which overlooked the main road connecting the two villages. By dusk the 2d Battalion (Lt. Col. Derrill M. Daniel) was deployed on the high ground near the tiny hamlet of Dom Bütgenbach, dug in along the reverse slopes on a 2,100-yard front. Both flanks were wide open. The enemy, however, failed to react forcefully to the American move, although a 2d Battalion patrol found that the Germans still were in Büllingen. The 26th Infantry ultimately would be hit and hit hard, but not until the German plans for shattering the eastern front of the 99th and 2d Divisions had failed. The night of 17 December passed uneventfully except for the booming of the guns of the 33d Field Artillery Battalion and 413th Antiaircraft Gun Battalion firing from their positions with the 26th Infantry against the hostile traffic streaming through Büllingen.

Early the following morning small enemy detachments appeared in the Dom Bütgenbach area but showed no inclination to close with the Americans. The 26th Infantry had been busy during the night completing its deployment: the 3d Battalion now was dug in west of Wirtzfeld on the left of the 2d Battalion, which retained the responsibility for blocking the Büllingen-Bütgenbach road; the 1st Battalion was in reserve around Butgenbach; and considerable artillery and tank destroyer strength reinforced the command. In anticipation of an all-out German attack at this critical section of the American front, the V Corps truckhead at Bütgenbach was closed and all rations and gasoline were evacuated. Farther to the west, where no defense had yet formed, the Robertville ammunition supply point, holding six thousand tons, suspended operations and moved to the rear. But through the 18th the enemy showed no sign of any earnest intent in front of the 26th Infantry.