When the German Ardennes Offensive of December 1944 ruptured the front of the U.S. First Army, Major General Troy Middleton committed his VIII Corps to the defense of selected transportation bottlenecks in the path of the German advance. St. Vith, located in the central sector of the Ardennes battleground, was one of these. Although by passed by German spearheads bound for the Meuse River, the 7th Armored Division (plus major elements of three other divisions) held the position against major elements of two German Panzer armies. After six days of tenacious defense while practically encircled, the St. Vith force was ordered to withdraw. The defenders of St. Vith prevented the Germans from effectively supplying their armored spearheads, drew off their follow-on forces, and bought time for the U.S. First Army to consolidate its position on the north flank of the German penetration.