XII Corps (United States)
The XII Corps fought from northern France to Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Constituted in the Organized Reserves in 1933, it was activated on 29 August 1942 at Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia is the state capital and largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The population was 129,272 according to the 2010 census. Columbia is the county seat of Richland County, but a portion of the city extends into neighboring Lexington County. The city is the center of a metropolitan...

. XII Corps became operational in France as part of Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 George S. Patton
George S. Patton
George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness.Patton was commissioned in the U.S. Army after his graduation from...

's U.S. Third Army on 1 August 1944. Initially commanded by Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Gilbert R. Cook
Gilbert R. Cook
Gilbert R. Cook was a United States Army general. He had a thirty-six year military career in the United States Army. He served in World War I in France and Germany, commanded the 21st Infantry during the Pearl Harbor attack, and commanded infantry troops in France during World War II.-Early...

, bad health forced MG Cook to relinquish command to Major General Manton S. Eddy
Manton S. Eddy
Manton Sprague Eddy was a lieutenant general of the United States Army.-Early life:Eddy graduated from Shattuck Military School in Faribault, Minnesota in 1913. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1916. Thoroughly the infantryman, Manton Eddy served in France in World War I in rifle and machine...

 within three weeks. MG Eddy commanded the corps until late April 1945, when his own health problems forced him to turn over command to MG S. LeRoy Irwin.

Pursuit across northern France

Assembling south of Le Mans
Le Mans
Le Mans is a city in France, located on the Sarthe River. Traditionally the capital of the province of Maine, it is now the capital of the Sarthe department and the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Le Mans. Le Mans is a part of the Pays de la Loire region.Its inhabitants are called Manceaux...

 on 13 August 1944, XII Corps began driving eastward and liberated the cities of Orléans
-Prehistory and Roman:Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe where the Druids held their annual assembly. It was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, then rebuilt under the Roman Empire...

 and Châteaudun
Châteaudun is a commune in the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of Eure-et-Loir.-Geography:Châteaudun is located about 45 km northwest of Orléans, and about 50 km south-southwest of Chartres, on the river Loir, a tributary of the...

 within five days. Moving rapidly against disorganized German resistance, the corps rapidly took Sens
Sens is a commune in the Yonne department in Burgundy in north-central France.Sens is a sub-prefecture of the department. It is crossed by the Yonne and the Vanne, which empties into the Yonne here.-History:...

, Montargis
Montargis is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France. The town is located about south of Paris and east of Orléans in the Gâtinais....

, Troyes
Troyes is a commune and the capital of the Aube department in north-central France. It is located on the Seine river about southeast of Paris. Many half-timbered houses survive in the old town...

, Châlons-sur-Marne, and Vitry-le-François
Vitry-le-François is a commune in the Marne department in north-eastern France. It is located on the Marne River and is the western terminus of the Marne-Rhine Canal.- History :In 1142, Louis VII invaded Champagne and seized Vitry-le-François...

. By 31 August 1944, XII Corps had seized a bridgehead over the Meuse River
Meuse River
The Maas or Meuse is a major European river, rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea...

 at Commercy
Commercy is a commune in the Meuse department in Lorraine in north-eastern France.It is the home of the madeleines referred to by Marcel Proust in A la Recherche du Temps Perdu.-History:...

 in Lorraine
Lorraine (région)
Lorraine is one of the 27 régions of France. The administrative region has two cities of equal importance, Metz and Nancy. Metz is considered to be the official capital since that is where the regional parliament is situated...



At the beginning of September 1944, serious gasoline shortages forced an abrupt halt to General Patton's pursuit across northern France. Resuming its advance on 4 September, but facing shortages of gasoline and ammunition because of the allied logistical crisis, XII Corps now confronted a vastly changed tactical situation. A combination of German reinforcements and regained cohesion in the German forces (Fifth Panzer Army) confronting the U.S. Third Army resulted in dramatically increased German resistance in the region of Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

 and Nancy in the Moselle River
Moselle River
The Moselle is a river flowing through France, Luxembourg, and Germany. It is a left tributary of the Rhine, joining the Rhine at Koblenz. A small part of Belgium is also drained by the Mosel through the Our....

 valley. From the German point of view, Lorraine (German: Lothringen) was seen as part of Germany and would be defended with bitter determination.

Across the Moselle

XII Corps assaulted across the Moselle River at Dieulouard on 13 September 1944, and heavy fighting ensued for three days as the Germans attempted to collapse the bridgehead. During 15–16 September, the corps liberated Nancy and Lunéville
Lunéville is a commune in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in France.It is a sub-prefecture of the department and lies on the Meurthe River.-History:...

. The advance of XII Corps was met by an armored counterattack of the Fifth Panzer Army. At Arracourt
Battle of Arracourt
The Battle of Arracourt was a battle between U.S. and German armored forces during World War II near the town of Arracourt, Lorraine, France, from 18-29 September 1944. As part of a counteroffensive against recent U.S. advances in France, the German 5th Panzer Army had as its objective the...

 during 19–20 September 1944, the corps' U.S. 4th Armored Division
U.S. 4th Armored Division
The 4th Armored Division of the United States Army was an armored division that compiled a distinguished career in the European theater of World War II. Unlike many other World War II U.S. armored divisions, the 4th never adopted an official divisional nickname or slogan...

 destroyed two German Panzer
A Panzer is a German language word that, when used as a noun, means "tank". When it is used as an adjective, it means either tank or "armoured" .- Etymology :...

 brigades. Desperate fighting continued until 1 October 1944 for the area around Arracourt, Moyenvic, and Grémecey's forest. Resuming its advance, the corps pushed to the river Seille by 9 October 1944.

To the Saar

After resting and reorganizing for a month, XII Corps opened an offensive to reach the Saar River
Saar River
The Saar is a river in northeastern France and western Germany, and a right tributary of the Moselle. It rises in the Vosges mountains on the border of Alsace and Lorraine and flows northwards into the Moselle near Trier. It has two headstreams , that both start near Mont Donon, the highest peak...

 on 8 November 1944. Château-Salins
Château-Salins is a commune in the Moselle department in Lorraine in north-eastern France.-See also:*Communes of the Moselle department...

 was taken on 9 November, and the corps battled through firm German resistance to liberate Faulquemont
Faulquemont is a commune in the Moselle department in Lorraine in north-eastern France....

 on 20 November 1944. On 24 November, the corps crossed the Sarre River and then liberated Saint-Avold
Saint-Avold is a commune in the Moselle department in Lorraine in north-eastern France.It is situated twenty-eight miles east of Metz and seventeen miles southwest of Saarbrücken....

 on 27 November 1944. From 1 to 11 December 1944, XII Corps fought for, and liberated the towns of Sarre-Union
Sarre-Union is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It consists of two older towns that were unified on 16 June 1794. On the east bank of the Sarre river is the town of Bouquenom and on the west bank the town of Ville Neuve de Sarrewerden .-References:*...

 and Sarreguemines
Sarreguemines is a commune in the Moselle department in Lorraine in north-eastern France.It is the seat of an arrondissement.-Geography:...

. On 12 December, the corps entered Germany and began operations against the Siegfried Line
Siegfried Line
The original Siegfried line was a line of defensive forts and tank defences built by Germany as a section of the Hindenburg Line 1916–1917 in northern France during World War I...



Germany's surprise offensive into the Ardennes
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges formed within the Givetian Ardennes mountain range, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into France , and geologically into the Eifel...

 on 16 December 1944, resulted in the U.S. Third Army being moved northward to attack the southern flank of the German army in Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

. Turning over its part of the front to the U.S. XV Corps
XV Corps (United States)
The XV Corps of the US Army was initially constituted on 1 October 1933 as part of the Organized Reserves, and was activated on 15 February 1943 at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana. During the Second World War, XV Corps fought for 307 days in the European Theater of Operations, fighting from Normandy...

, XII Corps moved to the area of Luxembourg
Luxembourg (city)
The city of Luxembourg , also known as Luxembourg City , is a commune with city status, and the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is located at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers in southern Luxembourg...

 city on 21 December 1944. Subsequently, the corps cleared the west bank of the Moselle River in Luxembourg until 11 January 1945. During 18–23 January, XII Corps assaulted across the Sauer River and cleared the twin confluences of the Our River
Our River
The Our is a river of Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. It is a left tributary to the river Sauer/Sûre. Its total length is 78 km....

 and the Sauer, and then that of the Sauer and Moselle Rivers.

Into Germany

On 7 February 1945, the corps assaulted across the Our and Sauer Rivers between Vianden
Vianden is a commune with city status in the Oesling, north-eastern Luxembourg, with over 1,500 inhabitants. It is the capital of the canton of Vianden, which is part of the district of Diekirch. Vianden lies on the Our river, near the border between Luxembourg and Germany., the town of Vianden,...

 and Echternach
Echternach is a commune with city status in the canton of Echternach, which is part of the district of Grevenmacher, in eastern Luxembourg. Echternach lies near the border with Germany, and is the oldest town in Luxembourg....

, repelling German counter-attacks against the bridgeheads and gradually clearing Siegfried Line bunkers in the area until 15 February. On 18 February 1945, XII Corps drove on the Prüm River
Prüm River
The Prüm is a river in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, left tributary of the Sauer. Its total length is 85 km. The Prüm rises in the Schneifel hills, north of the town of Prüm, close to the border with Belgium. It flows southward through Prüm, Waxweiler, Holsthum, and Irrel. The Prüm discharges to...

, which it assaulted across on the night of 24–25 February. Bitburg
Bitburg It is situated approx. 25 km north-west of Trier, and 50 km north-east of Luxembourg . One American airbase, Spangdahlem Air Base, is located nearby.-History:...

 fell to XII Corps on 28 February 1945. The corps assaulted across the Kyll River on the night of 2–3 March 1945, and reached the Rhine River in the area of Andernach
Andernach is a town in the district of Mayen-Koblenz, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, of currently about 30,000 inhabitants. It is situated towards the end of the Neuwied basin on the left bank of the Rhine between the former tiny fishing village of Fornich in the north and the mouth of the...

 on 7 March. From 7–11 March 1945, the corps mopped up along the west bank of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers.

Across the Rhine

Assaulting across the Moselle River at Treis on 14 March 1945, the corps seized Bad Kreuznach
Bad Kreuznach
Bad Kreuznach is the capital of the district of Bad Kreuznach, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is located on the Nahe river, a tributary of the Rhine...

 on 18 March and Worms
Worms, Germany
Worms is a city in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, on the Rhine River. At the end of 2004, it had 85,829 inhabitants.Established by the Celts, who called it Borbetomagus, Worms today remains embattled with the cities Trier and Cologne over the title of "Oldest City in Germany." Worms is the only...

 on 21 March. On 22 March 1945, XII Corps assaulted across the Rhine River at Oppenheim
Oppenheim is a town in the Mainz-Bingen district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The town is well known as a wine town, the site of the German Winegrowing Museum and particularly for the wines from the Oppenheimer Krötenbrunnen vineyards.- Location :...

 without involved preparation and caught the Germans in the area off-guard. From 21–27 March, the corps battled for, and seized Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

. On 25 March, Darmstadt
Darmstadt is a city in the Bundesland of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine Main Area.The sandy soils in the Darmstadt area, ill-suited for agriculture in times before industrial fertilisation, prevented any larger settlement from developing, until the city became the seat...

 fell to XII Corps. Against the wishes of MG Eddy, General Patton ordered the XII Corps to dispatch a raiding force (Task Force Baum
Task Force Baum
Task Force Baum was a secret and controversial World War II task force set up by U.S. Army general George S. Patton and commanded by Capt. Abraham Baum in late March 1945. Baum was given the task of penetrating 50 miles behind German lines and liberating the POWs in camp OFLAG XIII-B, near...

) to liberate the Hammelburg
Hammelburg is a town in the district of Bad Kissingen, in Lower Franconia, Bavaria, Germany. It is situated on the river Franconian Saale, 25 km west of Schweinfurt...

 prisoner of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 camp on 25 March. TF Baum was trapped and destroyed near Hammelburg on 27 March 1945. On 26 March 1945, the corps assaulted across the Main River
Main river
Main rivers are a statutory type of watercourse in England and Wales, usually larger streams and rivers, but also include some smaller watercourses. A main river is defined as a watercourse marked as such on a main river map, and can include any structure or appliance for controlling or regulating...

 into Frankfurt am Main, and fought for three days to capture the city in the face of German resistance characterized by the use of assault guns and a heavy concentration of Flak artillery in the dense urban environment. Moving rapidly northeast, the corps bypassed German troop concentrations and conquered Hanau
Hanau is a town in the Main-Kinzig-Kreis, in Hesse, Germany. It is located 25 km east of Frankfurt am Main. Its station is a major railway junction.- Geography :...

 (28 March), Bad Hersfeld
Bad Hersfeld
The festival and spa town of Bad Hersfeld is the district seat of Hersfeld-Rotenburg district in northeastern Hesse, Germany, roughly 50 km southeast of Kassel....

 (31 March), and Fulda
Fulda is a city in Hesse, Germany; it is located on the river Fulda and is the administrative seat of the Fulda district .- Early Middle Ages :...

 (2 April). The corps paused between Gotha
Gotha (town)
Gotha is a town in Thuringia, within the central core of Germany. It is the capital of the district of Gotha.- History :The town has existed at least since the 8th century, when it was mentioned in a document signed by Charlemagne as Villa Gotaha . Its importance derives from having been chosen in...

 and Suhl
- Geography :Suhl sits on the south edge of the Suhler Scholle, an upthrust granite complex that is streaked by numerous dikes. This is part of the Ruhla-Schleusingen Horst that defines the southwest side of the Thuringian Forest...

 on 3 April 1945. On 4 April 1945 XII Corps troops discovered a Nazi stash of art treasures and gold in a salt mine at Merkers, and then took Meiningen
Meiningen is a town in Germany - located in the southern part of the state of Thuringia and is the district seat of Schmalkalden-Meiningen. It is situated on the river Werra....

 the following day.

A curious decision

In a questionable allocation of allied military strength, Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 (supreme allied commander) and Omar N. Bradley (commander of U.S. 12th Army Group) paused 12th Army Group's (to which the U.S. Third Army belonged) advance at the Elbe River and then committed the U.S. Third Army, the U.S. Seventh Army and the French First Army
French First Army
The First Army was a field army of France that fought during World War I and World War II. It was also active during the Cold War.-First World War:...

 to overrun what they believed was an "Alpine Redoubt" in the south of Germany. The so-called redoubt proved to be a myth and the commitment of eight U.S. and French army corps against it was a curious use of allied military resources while other allied armies in the north paused for weeks only 80 miles from the true heart of German resistance, Berlin.

Final operations

This decision committed XII Corps to an advance to the southeast. Taking Coburg
Coburg is a town located on the Itz River in Bavaria, Germany. Its 2005 population was 42,015. Long one of the Thuringian states of the Wettin line, it joined with Bavaria by popular vote in 1920...

 on 11 April 1945, the corps then took Bayreuth in a three-day battle ending on 16 April. Moving rapidly, XII Corps liberated the Flossenburg
Flossenbürg concentration camp
Konzentrationslager Flossenbürg was a Nazi concentration camp built in May 1938 by the Schutzstaffel Economic-Administrative Main Office at Flossenbürg, in the Oberpfalz region of Bavaria, Germany, near the border with Czechoslovakia. Until its liberation in April 1945, more than 96,000 prisoners...

 concentration camp on 23 April and reached the Danube River on 25 April 1945. Operating simultaneously in Germany and Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, the corps crossed into Austria and assaulted across the Danube River southwest of Regensburg
Regensburg is a city in Bavaria, Germany, located at the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers, at the northernmost bend in the Danube. To the east lies the Bavarian Forest. Regensburg is the capital of the Bavarian administrative region Upper Palatinate...

 on 26 April 1945. The corps seized Linz
Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and capital of the state of Upper Austria . It is located in the north centre of Austria, approximately south of the Czech border, on both sides of the river Danube. The population of the city is , and that of the Greater Linz conurbation is about...

 on 4–5 May 1945, and began clearing passes in Czechoslovakia for a drive on Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

. VE Day brought a close to combat operations for the XII Corps, as the corps linked up with Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 troops near Amstetten
Amstetten can refer to several geographical terms:*Amstetten , a municipality in the Alb-Donau district of Germany*Amstetten, Lower Austria, a municipality in southwest Lower Austria...


Campaign credits and inactivation

XII Corps is credited with service in the Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe campaigns. Headquarters, XII Corps, was inactivated on 15 December 1945 in Germany. The corps was subsequently activated and inactivated several times, with the last inactivation occurring on 1 April 1968 at Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

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