Corps Commanders of the Bulge

Six American Generals and Victory in the Ardennes

Harold R. Winton

Winner: Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Book Award

If the Battle of the Bulge was Germany's last gasp, it was also America's proving ground-the largest single action fought by the U.S. Army in World War II. Taking a new approach to an old story, Harold Winton widens our field of vision by showing how victory in this legendary campaign was built upon the remarkable resurrection of our truncated interwar army, an overhaul that produced the effective commanders crucial to GI success in beating back the Ardennes counteroffensive launched by Hitler's forces.

“World War II history is not lacking in case studies in leadership, and the Battle of the Bulge is certainly well documented. Despite this, Winton has managed to create a compelling account of both that breaks from the normal mold of battle analysis or leadership primer in a little studied area at the corps level of command. Instead, he weaves the two together through the lens of six of the Army’s finest operational leaders, and does so in a manner that engages the reader, irrespective of their knowledge of Word War II history.

—The Strategy Bridge

“Excellent both as campaign narrative and as a study of command. . . . Winton has written an excellent study of command in battle. It can profitably be read by students of the American Army in World War II, those interested in the problem of assessing military performance, and anyone who appreciates excellent historical prose.

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Winton's is the first study of the Bulge to examine leadership at the largely neglected level of corps command. Focusing on the decisions and actions of six Army corps commanders—Leonard Gerow, Troy Middleton, Matthew Ridgway, John Millikin, Manton Eddy, and J. Lawton Collins—he recreates their role in this epic struggle through a mosaic of narratives that take the commanders from the pre-war training grounds of America to the crucible of war in the icy-cold killing fields of Belgium and Luxembourg.

Winton introduces the story of each phase of the Bulge with a theater-level overview of the major decisions and events that shaped the corps battles and, for the first time, fully integrates the crucial role of airpower into our understanding of how events unfolded on the ground. Unlike most accounts of the Ardennes that chronicle only the periods of German and American initiative, Winton's study describes an intervening middle phase in which the initiative was fiercely contested by both sides and the outcome uncertain. His inclusion of the principal American and German commanders adds yet another valuable layer to this rich tapestry of narrative and analysis.

Ultimately, Winton argues that the flexibility of the corps structure and the competence of the men who commanded the six American corps that fought in the Bulge contributed significantly to the ultimate victory. Chronicling the human drama of commanding large numbers of soldiers in battle, he has produced an artful blend of combat narrative, collective biography, and institutional history that contributes significantly to the broader understanding of World War II as a whole. With the recent modularization of the U.S. Army division, which makes this command echelon a re-creation of the corps of World War II, Corps Commanders of the Bulge also has distinct relevance to current issues of Army transformation.

About the Author

Harold R. Winton is professor of military history and theory at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Air University. He is author of To Change an Army: General Sir John Burnett-Stuart and British Armored Doctrine, 1927-1938 and co-editor of The Challenge of Change: Military Institutions and New Realities, 1918-1941.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series