Stoumont is a Belgian village just miles away from the German border to the east. It lies west of the village of Malmedy where the infamous massacre of 84 American prisoners of war was carried about by soldiers of Kampfgruppe Peiper, under the command of Joachim Peiper . . . who was a fanatical member of the Waffen-SS.
The action depicted in this historical ASL module takes place mere days after the discovery of the massacre and covers the desperate fighting by American defenders trying to stop the advance of well-equipped and experienced German soldiers as they attempt to push the allies away from the German border during the early days of the Battle of the Bulge.
This was Avalon Hill’s second historical ASL module after Red Barricades. It features a large, historically accurate map depicting the village of Stoumont and the surrounding roads, buildings, fields, forests, and streams. There are thirteen levels of elevation detailing the hills and valley surrounding the village, creating unique line-of-sight challenges for all players.
This map can be found in Avalon Hill’s ASL historical module Kampfgruppe Peiper I (1993). There’s no need to download this map separately, it should download automatically with your VASL installation.
The Stoumont Bulge
The battle of Stoumont was a fierce engagement that took place during the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive on the Western Front in World War 2. It involved the clash between the American 30th Infantry Division and the German Kampfgruppe Peiper, the spearhead of the 1st SS Panzer Division. The battle lasted from December 18 to December 22, 1944, and resulted in the halt of the German advance and the encirclement of Peiper’s forces.
The Battle of the Bulge began on December 16, 1944, when the Germans launched a surprise attack through the Ardennes Forest, aiming to capture the port of Antwerp and split the Allied forces. The northern sector of the offensive was assigned to the 6th Panzer Army, which included the 1st SS Panzer Division “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler”. This division was composed of veteran and elite troops, equipped with a large number of tanks and armored vehicles. The division’s commander, SS Lt. Gen. Josef Dietrich, chose SS Lt. Col. Jochen Peiper to lead the main thrust of the attack, with a force of about 5,000 men and 117 tanks, known as Kampfgruppe Peiper.
Peiper’s mission was to break through the American lines, cross the Meuse River, and reach Antwerp as quickly as possible. He was given a narrow and winding route to follow, which passed through several towns and villages in the Ardennes. He was also promised ample supplies of fuel and ammunition, which were to be captured from the Americans along the way. However, Peiper soon encountered several obstacles that slowed down his progress and depleted his resources. He faced stiff resistance from the American defenders, who blew up bridges, set up roadblocks, and fought back with artillery, anti-tank guns, and small arms. He also had to deal with poor road conditions, traffic jams, and enemy air attacks. Moreover, he failed to secure enough fuel and ammunition, as most of the American depots were either empty or destroyed.
One of the most notorious incidents that occurred during Peiper’s advance was the Malmedy massacre, which took place on December 17, 1944. Near the crossroads of Baugnez, Peiper’s men captured a group of about 120 American soldiers from the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion. Instead of taking them as prisoners of war, the Germans opened fire on them, killing 84 of them. The survivors escaped and reported the atrocity to their superiors, who spread the news among the American troops. This increased the determination and morale of the Americans to stop Peiper at all costs, and reduced the chances of surrender or negotiation.
By December 18, Peiper had reached the town of Stavelot, on the banks of the Amblève River. He decided to cross the river and continue his advance, leaving behind a rear guard to secure the town. However, he did not realize that the Americans had already recaptured Stavelot and cut off his supply line. He also did not know that the American 30th Infantry Division, nicknamed “Old Hickory”, had arrived in the area and was preparing to block his path. The 30th Division was a veteran unit that had fought in Normandy, the Netherlands, and Germany. It was commanded by Maj. Gen. Leland S. Hobbs, who ordered his men to hold the line from Malmedy to Stoumont, a small village about six miles west of Stavelot.
The battle of Stoumont began on the morning of December 19, 1944, when Peiper received word of American presence in the village. He decided to attack with his main force, consisting of about 15 tanks and hundreds of infantrymen. He faced the 3rd Battalion of the 119th Infantry Regiment, which was supported by the 740th Tank Battalion and the 143rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion. The Americans had set up a roadblock at the entrance of the village, and had positioned their tanks and guns on the hills overlooking the road. They also had artillery support from the 197th Field Artillery Battalion and the 30th Division Artillery.
The Germans launched their assault with a brief artillery barrage, followed by an infantry charge. The Americans responded with their own artillery fire, which inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans. The German tanks then tried to break through the roadblock, but were met by the fire of the American tanks and anti-aircraft guns. The Americans had the advantage of higher ground and better visibility, as the Germans had to deal with fog and smoke. The battle raged for several hours, with both sides exchanging fire and suffering losses. The Germans managed to knock out some of the American tanks and guns, but could not dislodge the defenders from their positions. The Americans also received reinforcements from the 2nd Battalion of the 119th Infantry Regiment, which arrived from the south and attacked the German flank.
By noon, Peiper realized that he could not take Stoumont by force, and decided to bypass the village and continue his advance. He ordered his men to withdraw and regroup, and then moved west along a secondary road. However, he soon ran into another roadblock, set up by the 2nd Battalion of the 120th Infantry Regiment, which was also part of the 30th Division. The Americans had blown up a bridge over the Lienne Creek, and had placed mines and obstacles on the road. They also had tanks and guns covering the approach. Peiper tried to force his way through, but was again stopped by the American fire. He then attempted to find another route, but was blocked by the terrain and the enemy. He was effectively trapped in a small area, surrounded by the Americans.
The battle of Stoumont continued for the next three days, as the Americans tightened their grip on Peiper’s forces. They launched repeated attacks from all directions, using tanks, infantry, artillery, and air strikes. They also cut off any attempts by the Germans to resupply or reinforce Peiper. The Germans fought back with determination and skill, using their remaining tanks and guns to repel the American assaults. They also dug in and fortified their positions, creating a defensive perimeter around the village of La Gleize, where Peiper had established his headquarters. The Germans hoped to hold out until they could be relieved by the rest of the 1st SS Panzer Division, which was supposed to follow Peiper’s route and support his advance.
However, the relief never came, as the 1st SS Panzer Division was also delayed and diverted by the American resistance. By December 22, Peiper realized that his situation was hopeless, and that he had no choice but to abandon his vehicles and equipment, and try to escape on foot. He gathered his surviving men, about 800 of them, and ordered them to leave behind their heavy weapons and personal belongings. He then led them across the Amblève River, and through the woods, hoping to reach the German lines. He left behind a small rear guard to cover his retreat, and to destroy the remaining vehicles and equipment. He also left a note for the Americans, which read:
“Here fought the 1st SS Panzer Division. The Americans fought well. Signed: Peiper.”
The Americans entered La Gleize on December 23, and found the village littered with the wreckage of German tanks and vehicles. They also captured the rear guard, and took them as prisoners of war. They counted 135 German tanks and armored vehicles destroyed or abandoned in the area, as well as hundreds of dead and wounded. The Americans had also suffered losses, but not as severe as the Germans. They had succeeded in stopping Peiper’s advance, and preventing him from reaching the Meuse River and Antwerp. They had also contributed to the overall failure of the German offensive, which was eventually turned back by the Allied counterattack.
The battle of Stoumont was one of the most intense and decisive engagements of the Battle of the Bulge. It demonstrated the courage and skill of the American soldiers, who faced a formidable enemy and held their ground. It also showed the futility and desperation of the German attack, which was doomed by poor planning, inadequate logistics, and fierce resistance. The battle of Stoumont was a turning point in the war, as it marked the end of the German offensive capability on the Western Front, and the beginning of the Allied advance into Germany.
The total casualty numbers for the battle of Stoumont are not precisely known, as different sources give different estimates. However a possible approximation is as follows:
- The Germans lost about 1,200 men killed, wounded, or captured, out of the 5,000 that started the attack. They also lost 135 tanks and armored vehicles, and most of their equipment and supplies.
- The Americans lost about 300 men killed, wounded, or captured, out of the 3,000 that defended the area. They also lost 18 tanks and armored vehicles, and some of their equipment and supplies.
.END OF BRIEFING.
ASL maps can be considered to be a form of artistic expression, and the Map Spotlights are meant as quick history lessons on available historical Advanced Squad Leader actions. These articles are meant to highlight both a short history of the battle portrayed for players unfamiliar with the setting, as well as show the ASL map on which it plays out.
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