As part of Operation Luttich, the German drive through Mortain towards Avranches, the 2nd SS-Panzer Division’s Der Führer Regiment moved out of its assembly area at 0430 hours. Once it reached the outskirts of Mortain, Der Führer’s spearhead turned right to follow the highway north, over the Cance river at Pont de la Vacherie, to where the highway merged with Route 177 out of l’Abbaye Blanche. The column planned to sweep into St. Barthelmy from the south, turn left, and support the 1st SS-Panzer Division’s drive along Route 177 towards Avranches. While trying to cross the river at Pont de la Vacherie, the Germans were ambushed by elements of the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion and the 120th Infantry Regiment. This roadblock forced the Germans to attack from another direction. At 0600 hours, two German halftracks mounting 75mm guns and escorted by a company of infantry moved south down Route 177 in an attempt to outflank the American position. Here they met two more guns of the 823rd.