February’s Engineer Moment in History

19th Kasserine Pass

American units in blue and German units in red - Source: The West Point Atlas of American Wars (1959)

Provided by the U.S. Army Engineer School Historian

On 14-16 February 1943 in the early stages of the Battle of Kasserine Pass, Germans forces inflicted heavy casualties on the U.S. 1st Armored Division.  As this bloodied unit began to withdraw, COL Anderson Moore’s 19th Engineer Combat Regiment and some infantry elements received orders to construct defenses to cover the division’s movement through the Kasserine Pass.  The 1st Armored Division successfully made its withdrawal on 17 February, but German forces were hot on its heels.  Meanwhile, as the map below shows, Moore’s Engineers laid mines and took up a defensive line together with the infantry elements blocking Kasserine Pass, just north of Kasserine village.  Throughout 18-19 February, the Germans made repeated attacks, first pushing the American infantry out of their positions on the eastern edge of the pass and finally forcing the 19th Engineers to retreat from the western edge.  However, their line held long enough to allow other American units to arrive and take up positions in the hills beyond to the northwest.  This prevented the Germans from exploiting their tactical victory at Kasserine Pass.  The 19th Engineers suffered more than 125 casualties out of 1,200 Engineers under COL Moore’s command.

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