The Hatab River was unfordable for most of its course through the Foussana Basin, and physical contact between Moore’s engineers along the Tebessa road and Stark’s infantry along the Thala road was difficult. Rommel’s attack jumped off as Buelowius sent a battalion of infantry through the narrows. In the hope of slipping through and overwhelming the defenders by surprise, he withheld an artillery preparation. Artillery and small-arms fire sent the attackers scrambling up the sides of the heights flanking the pass in search of cover. As Buelowius was deciding to commit still another battalion to the attack, Stark was telling Fredendall that a strong attack might be under way, it was hard to tell. Shells were falling near his command post tent, but this didn’t seem very serious. To compensate for the late arrival of the 10th Panzer division and its reduced power, Rommel brought forward tanks and bersaglieri from the Centauro division.