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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

Crockett And Bowie

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The bullets from the jacals now swept the walls and the truth of Crockett's words became painfully evident. The Texan cannon fired upon the huts, but the balls went through the soft adobe and seemed to do no harm. It was like firing into a great sponge. Triumphant shouts came from the Mexicans. Their own batteries resumed the cannonade, while their sheltered riflemen sent in the bullets faster and faster.

Crockett tapped the barrel of Betsy significantly.

"The work has got to be done with this old lady an' others like her," he said. "We must get rid of them jacals."

"How?" asked Ned.

"You come along with me an' I'll show you," said Crockett. "I'm goin' to have a talk with Travis, an' if he agrees with me we'll soon wipe out that wasps' nest."

Crockett briefly announced his plan, which was bold in the extreme. Sixty picked riflemen, twenty of whom bore torches also, would rush out at one of the side gates, storm the jacals, set fire to them, and then rush back to the Alamo.

Travis hesitated. The plan seemed impossible of execution in face of the great Mexican force. But Bowie warmly seconded Crockett, and at last the commander gave his consent. Ned at once asked to go with the daring troop, and secured permission. The band gathered in a close body by one of the gates. The torches were long sticks lighted at the end and burning strongly. The men had already cocked their rifles, but knowing the immense risk they were about to take they were very quiet. Ned was pale, and his heart beat painfully, but his hand did not shake.

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The Texan cannon, to cover the movement, opened fire from the walls, and the riflemen, posted at various points, helped also. The Mexican cannonade increased. When the thunder and crash were at their height the gate was suddenly thrown open and the sixty dashed out. Fortunately the drifting smoke hid them partially, and they were almost upon the jacals before they were discovered.

A great shout came from the Mexicans when they saw the daring Texans outside, and bullets from the jacals began to knock up grass and dust about them. But Crockett himself, waving a torch, led them on, shouting:

"It's only a step, boys! It's only a step! Now, let 'em have it!"

The Texans fired as they rushed, but they took care to secure good aim. The Mexicans were driven from the roofs and the windows and then the Texans carrying the torches dashed inside. Every house contained something inflammable, which was quickly set on fire, and two or three huts made of wood were lighted in a dozen places.

The dry materials blazed up fast. A light wind fanned the flames, which joined together and leaped up, a roaring pyramid. The Mexicans, who had lately occupied them, were scuttling like rabbits toward their main force, and the Texan bullets made them jump higher and faster.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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