October 7th the 2nd Battalion, 357th Regiment, initiated its attack on Maizières-lès-Metz. By the day's end approximately half the town had been taken, but resistance in the form of street barricades, thickly strewn mines, violent mortar and artillery fire and grim house-to-house defense made complete occupation of Maizières-lès-Metz a difficult if not impossible task.
So vital did the Germans consider this northern outpost that a constant flow of reinforcements poured into the town. This added enemy strength plus the serious shortage of ammunition made further progress tedious and slow. No all-out effort was made, therefore, to reduce Maizières-lès-Metz in one crushing blow. Instead, a new plan was evolved.
The contested city was to be made a practical training ground in which new methods of street fighting were to be perfected. Deliberately calculated attacks with deliberately limited objectives by companies, platoons and squads were launched. Experiments were attempted, lessons learned or rejected, in this, the most practical war college in the world.
In the meantime, those elements of the Division not actually engaged in Maizières-lès-Metz devoted themselves to intensive training and rehabilitation. With an eye already focused on the highly mysterious, highly publicized Siegfried Line, methods and techniques of reducing pillboxes were studied, demonstrated, perfected, practiced and rehearsed.
New dispositions of Corps and Divisions were made along the front, with the 90th remaining essentially in place on the outer rim of the defensive arc west of Metz. On October 15th Brigadier General James A. Van Fleet took command of the Division. For more than a month the front lines had remained almost static.
The situation at Maizières-lès-Metz, however, grew intolerable. It was unthinkable that the town should be jointly occupied by Americans and Germans, living, so to speak, in each others laps. The XX Corps at last determined that the town was of sufficient importance to warrant the extra effort and munitions required to clear it of the enemy, straddling, as it did, the vital supply lines feeding the northern fort of Metz.
Plans for the assault were made with infinite attention to the minutest details. Each officer, each rifleman, knew his job and his objective. In the center of the town was the city hall, strongly defended and well fortified by the enemy.
The city hall became the hub upon which the German defense revolved, a symbol of failure or success. Whoever held the city hall held Maizières-lès-Metz.