In the olive groves, where gnarled and misshapen trees assumed grotesque and frightening forms, the Americans were jumpy on that cold and frosty night of Tuesday, February 16. Even the patches of moving overcast seemed menacing, and the pale moon that showed occasionally between the scudding clouds appeared wan and sickly. German tanks approached in three columns, preceded by lighter vehicles of reconnaissance units. One group on the Lessouda road, picking up the dim outlines of a few American trucks, opened fire and dispersed an improvised mine-laying detail. Truscott had hardly finished talking when he received a report from an officer he had earlier sent to Sbeitla with a high-powered radio to keep him directly informed of developments. Learning also that German troops were advancing from Gafsa toward Feriana, Anderson gave the permission to pull back to Kasserine and Tebessa.