Elements of the VII Corps were working northward in an attempt to take the port of Cherbourg, vitally necessary for the landing of the huge quantities of supplies and reinforcements required to maintain a fighting army.
The 90th was to advance to the northwest, seize and hold a line running east-west approximately seven kilometers south of the hub city of Valognes, located in the central portion of the Cotentin peninsula, and there to prevent enemy movements northward or southward.
Faced with heartbreaking marshy terrain and endless rows of hedges, the troops pushed toward their objective against fierce enemy resistance. They waded through swamps and stormed the hedgerows, walking, running, sliding through the mud of France. And always under enemy observation.
At no time since the landings on Utah-Beach had the invaders been free of the watchful eye of the enemy, an enemy observed their movements and positions and delivered deadly accurate artillery fire from his vantage points. Eighteen kilometers to the south was Hill 122, Mont-Castre.
From this observation post the Germans were able to observe almost at will with practically unlimited visibility. Until it was taken every move made by the American divisions was subject to the closest enemy scrutiny. Until it was taken tactics must necessarily consist of the strong-arm variety... outfire, outfight, outnerve and outlast the Germans, who were sitting pretty on Hill 122.
But the hill would come later. For the present it sufficed that enemy observation and enemy fire were costing the lives of thousands of American troops. Nevertheless, the 90th moved forward. Artillery pulverized the contested areas; the infantry moved forward a few more yards ; the Engineers cleared the roads of mines and booby-traps. Again the artillery, again the infantry, again the engineers, again and again, and slowly the gains were made, slowly and with tragic losses. Two days after the jump-off the objective was reached.
The VII Corps had its necessary protection. The 90th Division halted briefly, counted heads, drew a deep but hasty breath, and licked its wounds. The following day, June 18th, the Division was placed under VIII Corps control.
And so, with the arrival of July, new orders also arrived. They read with a familiar ring... "The 90th Division will attack..."