At 1:20 PM, PAVN mortar rounds explode in the clearing and down the length of the column of American companies, followed by a violent assault that fragments the column into small groups.
When the firing begins, the Cavalrymen drop into the tall 3-5 foot high elephant grass where it is impossible for the soldiers of either side to identify friend or foe except at extremely close range. Within minutes, the situation becomes a wild melee, a shoot-out, with the gunfighters killing not only the enemy but sometimes their friends just a few feet away. When the firing begins, Captain George Forrest, commander of A Co 1/5 CAV (attached to 2/7 CAV), turns on his heels with his two radio operators, runs back 500 yards to his company and “circles the wagons”. His two radio operators are killed beside him during that run.
For the next two hours, the battle roars. A-1E Skyraiders are brought in, dropping napalm, and 250-pound bombs, which slow down the enemy’s actions, and the fire slackens. Artillery is brought in. By dark, B Co, 2/7 CAV had landed to reinforce Albany. There is now a small perimeter at Albany and one at the column’s tail. In between are American survivors being hounded and killed throughout the night. Also, at night, a few isolated Americans escape and evade, trying to make it to the artillery position at Columbus.
When daylight breaks on the morning of 18 November, it is a quiet and tense battlefield. Survivors begin the grim task of recovering American dead from the intermingled bodies of both sides. One platoon leader describes the scene down the 2/7 column as “a long, bloody traffic accident in the jungle.” Wounded and dead are evacuated.
By the 19th, the evacuation of the wounded and dead is complete. On 20 Nov, after three days and nights on that bloody, hellish, haunted battleground, the survivors of 2/7 CAV are airlifted out. 403 PAVN dead are reported, and an estimated 150 wounded. Total American casualties at Albany: 151 killed, 121 wounded, and four missing in action. In April 1966, all 4 of the missing remains were recovered.