Wars have been known to go on for years and years, but usually, battles have a limited time frame. Unfortunately, in the case of one US battle, it drug on for much longer than it really should have.
World War II had many battles, but one of the most taxing on the U.S. Army, and it was one of the few the Army lost. It was also one of the lengthiest battles in the war.
The military had moved so quickly through France that they pushed on to Germany. However, there was one crucial piece missing, their supply line. Since they did not have a steady stream of supplies heading their way, the U.S. Army had to wait.
This pause in the Allied’s forward progress presented the perfect opportunity for the Nazis. Their forces were able to rest and hunker down in one of the densest forests in Europe, the Hurtgen Forest.
Since the forest was so dense and dark, it made for the perfect defensive position. Unfortunately, the weather was also not in the Army’s favor. The seasons were changing.
Winter was on the horizon, which meant snow and rain would soon blanket the forest. The German’s were also familiar with the valleys and hills, giving them a tactical advantage.
Since they were there first, the Germans also made sure they could steer the U.S. troops to the old Siegfried Line of bunkers left abandoned in the forest. Unbeknownst to the Americans, the Germans set up landmines, barbed wire, and other booby traps.
The forest was in between the city of Aachen and the Ruhr Dam, spanning around 70 square miles. The Allies feared the Nazis would choose to destroy the dam to flood them out, while the city of Aachen refused to surrender.
This pushed the U.S. to move directly into the forest to minimize the threat and take the city. However, that was not how the battle went.
Unfortunately, due to the thick forests, tanks and airplanes were unusable. Machine guns were the only effective weaponry. However, the Germans had mortars dialed in long before the Americans entered the forest.
This miscalculation cost the U.S. Army between 30,000- 50,000 men versus the German’s 28,000 casualties. However, it also allowed the Germans to continue their forward movement, which would lead to the historic Battle of the Bulge.