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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

Crockett And Bowie

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The best of the Texan sharpshooters lined the walls, and they fired occasionally at indistinct and flitting figures, but they were quite certain that they did no execution. The darkness was too great. Travis, Bowie and Crockett considered the possibility of a sortie, but they decided that it had no chance of success. The few score Texans would be overwhelmed in the open plain by the thousands of Mexicans.

But all the leaders were uneasy. If the Mexican batteries were brought much closer, and were protected by earthworks and other fortifications, the Alamo would be much less defensible. It was decided to send another messenger for help, and Ned saw Bonham drop over the rear wall and slip away in the darkness. He was to go to Goliad, where Fannin had 300 men and four guns, and bring them in haste.

When Bonham was gone Ned returned to his place on the wall. For hours he heard the noises without, the distant sound of voices, the heavy clank of metal against metal, and he knew full well that Santa Anna was planting his batteries. At last he went to his place in the long room of the hospital and slept.

When dawn came he sprang up and rushed to the wall. There was the battery of Santa Anna only three hundred yards from the entrance to the main plaza and to the southeast, but little further away, was another. The Mexicans had worked well during the night.

"They're creepin' closer, Ned. They're creepin' closer," said Crockett, who had come to the wall before him, "but even at that range I don't think their cannon will do us much harm. Duck, boy, duck! They're goin' to fire!"

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The two batteries opened at the same time, and the Mexican masses in the rear, out of range, began a tremendous cheering. Many of the balls and shells now fell inside the mission, but the Texans stayed well under cover and they still escaped without harm. The Mexican gunners, in their turn, kept so well protected that the Texan riflemen had little chance.

The great bombardment lasted an hour, but when it ceased, and the smoke lifted, Ned saw a heavy mass of Mexican cavalry on the eastern road.

Both Ned and Crockett took a long look at the cavalry, a fine body of men, some carrying lances and others muskets. Ned believed that he recognized Urrea in the figure of their leader, but the distance was too great for certainty. But when he spoke of it to Crockett the Tenesseean borrowed Travis' field glasses.

"Take these," he said, "an' if it's that beloved enemy of yours you can soon tell."

The boy, with the aid of the glasses, recognized Urrea at once. The young leader in the uniform of a Mexican captain and with a cocked and plumed hat upon his head sat his horse haughtily. Ned knew that he was swelling with pride and that he, like Santa Anna, expected the trap to shut down on the little band of Texans in a day or two. He felt some bitterness that fate should have done so much for Urrea.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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